KENT, Ohio– Ohio is leading the nation when it comes to opioid-related deaths. In 2017, Ohio came in second for the most drug overdoses.

Researchers at Kent State University are now teaming up to create software that will monitor and detect substance abuse in Portage, Geauga, and Lake counties.

Through a $1.5 million grant, Kent State researchers say they will take data from health departments, hospitals, and their social media data to identify hot spots of substance abuse in each county and predict future substance abuse trends.

"Instead of using data and then taking a couple of years to see what the data says, we can be able to identify things very quickly and maybe even kind of predict what's going to happen before it even happens," said Dr. Deric Kenne, 

Kent State Associate Professor, College of Public Health. "There's not a ton of money out there for prevention services, so being able to be very efficient and more focused with what little resources these agencies have is a huge benefit."

Dr. Deric Kenne and Dr. Ruoming Jin are the lead researchers. They expect to have the drug prevention web-based infrastructure up and running in five years. It's their hope it will eventually expand beyond the three Ohio counties.

"A major goal of our collaboration is to eventually provide this infrastructure to the entire state, so not only Ohio, but we can go beyond those three counties to other states as well," said Dr. Jin, Kent State Professor, Department of Computer Science.