ODMAP provides crucial data to combat the opioid epidemic

April 5, 2021

Screen shot of the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP)

For years, Minnesota law enforcement, public health officials and medical professionals have been working to mitigate the effects of illicit narcotics – e​specially overdoses. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (DPS-BCA) began using an application called Overdose Detection Mapping​ Application Program (ODMAP) in 2019, and has since encouraged and assisted local agencies in participating.

Since that time, ODMAP's use has expanded from just a few law enforcement, EMS and public health agencies to 267 agencies participating today. Those agencies upload data about suspected overdoses to the application, which makes them available to all participating agencies, helping them identify telling information about recent overdoses and administrations of naloxone, a medication that can help reverse the effects of opioid drug overdoses.

ODMAP is designed to spot trends and alert involved agencies when one emerges. Local agencies use these trends to identify how many resources to put toward narcotics investigations and where to focus those resources. It can help emergency re​sponse personnel know how much naloxone to carry and, along with other victim and community resources, help them to plan for prevention and response needs in the weeks and months ahead.

The ODMAP data can also help inform an agency's communications with the public. For example, if ODMAP shows a spike in overdoses in a particular area, officials could release a PSA with information on signs of an overdose, what to do if you see someone overdose, where to obtain naloxone, and the Good Samaritan Law.

They can also use it as a lead to determine if people are consuming drugs from a “bad batch" – meaning a typically non-fatal dose is killing people because it's laced with a highly deadly second drug. Identifying instances like this allows law enforcement to warn the public, and to swarm the affected area with narcotics investigators to search for its source as well as extra doses of naloxone in anticipation of a spike.

Non-law-enforcement agencies can use ODMAP data to apply for grants to fund their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. They can also dispatch more ambulances to an area experiencing a spike and alert nearby emergency rooms to expect more overdose-related patients.

The data gleaned from ODMAP can tell us whether our efforts are working – and it looks as if they are. In March 2021, there were 333 overdoses – the lowest amount in the past 12 months. It shows that the more we know about a problem, the better equipped we are to solve it.