Public Health is a finalist in MaRS Health’s national Opioid Data Challenge

April 1, 2019

The MaRS Discovery District, the world’s largest urban innovation hub supporting the health and tech sector, has awarded Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health $10,000 for being a finalist in phase 1 of the MaRS Health’s Opioid Data Challenge. This national challenge, in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, asks Canadians to identify innovative ways of using data to better understand and respond to the opioid crisis plaguing Canadian communities.

We submitted our Opioid Overdose Alert System that was developed in collaboration with the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy and other local partners. The system collects real-time information on opioid-related overdoses and incidents from 10 local organizations and service providers to build a detailed understanding of local patterns.

When abnormal overdose or incident patterns emerge, an alert is triggered to inform the community and allow agencies, substance users, EMS and other stakeholders to respond quickly and appropriately. The system is being piloted in Guelph where six alerts have been issued since July 2018. Using social media, the alerts reach thousands of residents quickly.

We will use the $10,000 award to fund phase 2 of the challenge, which will involve extending and testing the methodology and alert system, appropriately named the FAST (fast, accessible, scalable, and timely) Opioid Alert Platform, in other communities across Canada. The Challenge winners will be announced in late June 2019 with up to two $50,000 awards available. Winners will also have the opportunity to integrate their model into existing public health surveillance systems.