By: Shannon Persad
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New Jersey Institute of Technology Tracks Drug Abuse with Analytics
Drug abuse is rampant across New Jersey, and it’s not just opioids. Many drugs have street names that are not trackable, which leads to unreported claims of abuse, overdose, and death. The drug landscape continues to evolve, making it harder to track drug use in real-time.
However, the New Jersey Institute of Technology has taken a step in the right direction, by creating “DrugTracker,” which uses Big Data to track real-time drug use through social media. It’s meant to be a “community-focused” drug abuse monitor, that uses geographical regions and platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, curating up-to-date data.
NJIT’s DrugTracker Advantages on Drug Abuse
The primary purpose of the DrugTracker is to keep up with real-time data, leading treatment centers, and healthcare facilities to take action as soon as possible. DrugTracker uses social media posts and geospatial data in near real-time.
Organizations could do the following with DrugTracker:
- Use social media mentions to detect drug abuse risk behaviors.
- Use keywords to analyze drug abuse risk behaviors.
- Study data and results through a platform that includes heat maps and statistical charts.
NJIT believes data is collected too slow, at annual or quarterly rates, which lead them to create this project. Allowing a program to detect realtime data using social media can pinpoint drug abuse “hot spots” and local communities in need.
DrugTracker aims to identity information on those impacted, which drugs are exploited, and use data to allocate resources better. For instance, facilities can prepare to respond during peak times if they were more aware of overdose “hot spots,” resulting in faster assistance.
It’s not the first time NJIT has gotten involved in helping NJ’s drug abuse efforts.
In June, the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a corporation of NJIT, announced efforts to fight the opioid crisis. Initiated in April, NJII will fund an effort to fight over prescription of opioid drugs by funding facilities that don’t have a proper electronic health record (EHR) system and bolster current existing EHR systems. According to NJ Cares, about 1,874,269 opioid prescriptions have been administered between January 1 to June 15th of 2019 alone.
The involvement of NJIT can change the way we look at data, as well as analyzing substance abuse habits, further increasing NJ’s efforts to fight drug abuse.
What do you think about Big Data getting involved in the fight against drugs?