For Immediate Release: August 24, 2017
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov

Governor’s Datathon to Focus on Opioid Addiction Crisis

~Teams needed to develop data-driven prevention, treatment and law enforcement strategies~

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the 2017 Governor’s Datathon will focus on addressing the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia. The teams in this year’s competition will be composed of individuals from local and state government, higher education, private industry, and non-profit organizations. They will use non-sensitive, non-identifiable data from health, public safety and other agencies across federal, state and local government.

“Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Virginia, outpacing deaths from gun violence and motor vehicle accidents. This epidemic affects families and communities across the Commonwealth and we must approach this crisis from every angle,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Our response to address prevention, treatment, and law enforcement intervention needs to be data-driven and tailored to the specific needs of individual communities. Collaborative responses and strategies involving both public safety and public health are imperative to ending this crisis in Virginia, so I am pleased that we can channel the expertise of the brilliant people who participate in the Datathon to address this critical issue.”

“We know that if collected and used correctly, data can help us fight this opioid epidemic by identifying the communities and populations that are most vulnerable,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “The Datathon advances these efforts and highlights the important ways that data can be used.”

“Public safety officials do not act in a vacuum. Data drives decisions made by Virginia’s law enforcement and first responders on how to effectively protect citizens, how to prepare for and respond to crises, how and where to interdict and hopefully, at the end of the day, how to save more lives from being lost in the battle against opioids,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. 

Interns from George Washington University and George Mason University, working with the Governor’s Data Internship Program are currently identifying datasets to be used by the teams. Following this data discovery, 15 teams will spend two days working on solution development. Subject matter experts, the Health and Human Resources and Public Safety and Homeland Security secretariats, local governments, and non-profit organizations will collaborate with the teams as they work on their solutions. The teams will be encouraged to develop new insights and applications that will answer specific questions and address challenges that government and community stakeholders face.

Team presentations are scheduled for September 29, 2017 at 3:15 PM. Awards will be presented to the top three teams. This event, held at the Library of Virginia, is open to the public.

Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Marissa Levine last year declared the opioid and heroin overdose epidemic to be a public health emergency. Overdose deaths have continued to increase year after year; more than 1,400 Virginians lost their lives to drug overdose in 2016 with 1,133 of those attributable to prescription opioids and heroin. Heroin overdose deaths have increased every year since 2010, and increased by 31 percent between 2015 and 2016. Emergency department visits for heroin overdoses for January-September 2016 increased 89 percent over the same nine month period in 2015.

Partners in the effort include the Library of Virginia, Center for Innovative Technology, Virginia Information Technologies Agency, Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia State Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Computer Science Department RamHacks, CapTech, ELSEVIER, and Verizon Wireless.

To register a team or for more information go to http://data.virginia.gov/datathon-2017

 

###