University of Alabama team wins $1 million grant to develop tool to combat opioid epidemic

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Across the country, opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels, severely affecting communities and straining public safety resources.

The Institute of Business Analytics, or IBA, a research unit at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business, has received an approximate $1 million grant from the Office of Justice Programs at the Justice Department to develop a data-driven tool to help officials better understand the scope of the opioid epidemic in Alabama and how to intelligently allocate resources.

The University of Alabama team, which consists of principal investigators Drs. Matthew HudnallJason Parton and Dwight Lewis, will develop the Unified Nexus for Leveraging Opioid Crime Knowledge, or UNLOCK, system that pulls in data from multiple sources and analyzes it using high-powered computing techniques to create reports that will assist field officers, law enforcement administrators, prosecutors, community affiliates, public health providers and researchers in their work combating the abuse of opioids in Alabama.

“Critical data about the opioid epidemic comes from a multitude of sources including public health entities, law enforcement and municipalities,” said Hudnall, associate director of the IBA. “UNLOCK brings those data together to create intelligent, actionable recommendations that end users can deploy in their work fighting opioid abuse.”

The data that UNLOCK will use includes summarized toxicology information, evidence test results, coroner death report information and other geo-referenced data.

This award was made as the result of a highly competitive grant solicitation issued by Office of Justice Programs in the spring titled “Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program” that resulted in 46 awards nationwide.

“Many of us are very aware of the ways that the opioid crisis has negatively impacted communities and families across the state,” said Parton, director of IBA. “My team and I are excited about the promise of UNLOCK as a tool to counter the crisis.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

Republished with permission from the Alabama NewsCenter.

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