How Smart City Solutions Can Correct the Opioid Epidemic

At the Smart Regions Congress, Chief Tom Synan shared his perspective of the opioid epidemic and stressed the importance of collaboration among those involved with both the problem and the solution.

 

IoT Data Key to Connecting People, Places and Things in Crisis

Police in Southern Ohio discovered an effective way to use available data from the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve emergency response management of opioid overdoses.

Tom Synan, Chief of Police of the Newtown Police Department in Cincinnati, OH, said, “We discovered how to use hotspots to get critical data from hospitals, emergency vehicles and cell phones to provide smarter response and better outcomes in real time.”

Synan, who has made the opioid crisis his career focus, detailed the problem and solution path to the opioid epidemic during a panel called The Internet of Everything: Connectivity and Security in Smart Regions, at the Smart Regions Congress held last month in Washington, DC.

"Cincinnati, Ohio, averages 50-to-70 overdoses and four-to-five deaths each week. Numbers from 2017 reflect a 33 percent increase in overdoses, and the numbers are similar in Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states,” Synan said. “This is a public health crisis requiring immediate solutions.”

  Enter the Smart Infrastructure Challenge with your region before April 25th, 2018.  Teams with the best vision and plan for a connected future will receive prizes, recognition and support.     Sign up here to receive updates.

Enter the Smart Infrastructure Challenge with your region before April 25th, 2018.  Teams with the best vision and plan for a connected future will receive prizes, recognition and support.   Sign up here to receive updates.

 
 

Synan explained that after studying the issue intently and working with hospitals, first responders and technology experts, his department learned they could use technology and Smart City connectivity to begin solving the crisis.

In addition to tracking overdoses and treatment outcomes, data can be used to find available care clinics and to predict future overdoses for the long-term goal of eliminating them.

Synan said data from hospitals, EMT vehicles and traffic grids can give emergency responders valuable real-time inputs to make the best decisions in crisis such as:

  • What treatment centers are open?
  • Do they take Medicaid?
  • What other insurance do they take?
  • What is the best traffic pattern to follow?
  • Where are the mathematically best potential outcomes?
  • Where and when are the most likely future overdoses?

“There is no issue killing more Americans than this one,” Synan said. “Opioid overdoses are causing more deaths than homicides and car accidents combined. It is the leading cause of death today for Americans under the age of 50.”

“The best and smartest path to fixing this devastating problem is to establish strong public policy that takes advantage of the iOT and its wealth of data,” he said.

Technology isn’t going to solve addiction. Technology can help us be more effective and more efficient, and connect all of our systems including hospitals and treatment centers. It can connect us with the people and services that are needed.
— Chief Tom Synan
 
 From L-R,  TJ Costello ,  Chief Tom Synan , and  Bob Bennett  speaking on the Smart Regions Congress' Leadership Forum titled,   The Internet of Everything: Connectivity and Security in Smart Regions.

From L-R, TJ Costello, Chief Tom Synan, and Bob Bennett speaking on the Smart Regions Congress' Leadership Forum titled, The Internet of Everything: Connectivity and Security in Smart Regions.

 

The Smart Regions Congress was presented by Venture Smarter as part of the Regional Smart Cities Initiative

RSCI supports interdisciplinary and interagency efforts to develop technology and process planning standards at the local, county, state, and federal level; to educate and align leaders around available resources; and to understand and address pressing problems in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The core mission is to improve the quality of life across the nation while alleviating strained municipal budgets using smart technologies and strategies.