Kent State Researchers Developing Tool to Prevent Substance Abuse

Nov 6, 2019

Could data have helped prevent the opioid crisis in Ohio? A Kent State University researcher says yes. Public Health Professor Deric Kenne is partnering with a Kent computer scientist to develop The Northeast Ohio Tri-County Prevention Infrastructure.

They’ve received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund the project. The goal is to create a big data analytics system that can make predictions on future drug and alcohol epidemics affecting youth. The predictions will allow counties to spot trends through research from hospital and law enforcement records, geolocation from social media posts, and dark web data.

They will target two common substances and alcohol use within students ages 9-20 across Portage, Geauga, and Lake Counties.

"The hope is that at the end of the five years we’ll have this system in place and it will be something that the counties can sustain on their own so it can continue to provide the identification and monitor of substance use within those counties," Kenne said. 

Kenne says that the system will allow counties to get a jumpstart in taking preventive action.

He says it will take a year to develop the system, and he hopes to eventually make it available to additional agencies and counties.