Surveillance of Drug Overdoses Using Google Fusion Tables

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Drug use is a constantly evolving public health challenge. We present the use of Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps for the surveillance of drug-related deaths and discuss its potential large-scale use. Methods: Demographic and geographic data for deaths related to cocaine and heroin use occurring from 2012-2014 was queried from the Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner's Office. Fusion Tables was then used to plot each address onto a map. Results: We developed a method to automatically import data into Fusion Tables. Individualized icons were then used to denote specific demographics and locations on a Google Map where filters could be applied to visualize findings such as only 18-25 year old white males. These features provided an easy means to visualize the relative high frequency of heroin-related deaths in white males. Furthermore, the date filters highlighted heroin-related deaths more than doubled in 2014 compared to previous years. Conclusions: Mapping of health-related data has a long-standing history in public health, though its use in the forensic pathology community is limited. Fusion Tables provides users with the ability to visualize and analyze patterns and share data. Many geocoding solutions exist; however, we found this software to be user friendly and flexible. Our office now includes these visualizations into the annual summary that is provided to local law enforcement, public health officials, and the general public.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cain MD; McGwin G; Atherton D
  • Start Page

  • 281
  • End Page

  • 290
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 2