Civic News
Baltimore / Data

Will data keep Baltimore residents informed about trends in opioid overdoses and deaths?

The opioid epidemic is not new, but the Baltimore City Health Department's data dashboard is. A longtime medic shares her thoughts.

A graphic rendering of issues under Baltimore's health department's purview. (Screenshot by, image by Baltimore City Health Department Overdose Prevention Team)

It’s no secret that Baltimore is a data-driven city, and that reputation has been further supported by the recent launch of the Baltimore City Department of Health’s (BCDH) new public dashboard that tracks and reports information on opioid overdoses. 

According to an announcement, the dashboard pulls data from the Maryland Department of Health Vital Statistics, Open Data Maryland, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control. The goal of the dashboard is to ensure that Baltimore City residents are well-informed about trends in opioid overdoses and deaths. The dashboard currently contains data from 1999 through 2020.

Taylor Evans rubs chin in black and white attire before maroon wall

A screenshot from Taylor Evans’ film “Zero to One Hunnid.” (Screenshot by

Baltimore’s opioid epidemic is well-documented, with filmmakers like Taylor Evans highlighting its impact through such works as her 2015 film, “Zero To One Hunnid – A Baltimore Drug Documentary.” In that 2015 work, a young Black man realizes that drugs are ruling his life after the overdose of a close friend. The film’s narrative still holds today, highlighting the overdose crisis’s negative impact in Baltimore. 

Mary Beth Heller, the city’s interim commissioner of health, said in a statement that the dashboard aims to not only provide publicly accessible statistics but also strengthen collaborative work among public health partners combatting this endemic issue. 

“The goal of the dashboard is to ensure that Baltimore City residents are informed regarding trends in opioid overdoses and deaths,” she noted. 

Line graph depicting overdose deaths in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA in blue, gold and green

A dashboard graph comparing overdose death rates in Baltimore, Maryland and the US. (Screenshot by

But are Baltimore’s residents already well-informed about the opioid epidemic and resulting drug overdoses in this city? Wouldn’t they be the first population impacted and in the know? 

Ameejill Whitlock, a Baltimore-area emergency services provider with 27 years of experience as a medic, told that while she sees the dashboard as a useful tool, the timeliness of data being used raised concerns.

“Part of the issue is that the information being used for the dashboard is actually old,” Whitlock said. Those of us that are very close to the information get our information directly from either the local fire department or the opioid overdose crisis center here in the state. We’re familiar with the data that usually comes out quarterly,”

Furthermore, the new dashboard site said data for 2022 only represents suspected nonfatal overdoses responded to by EMS, as well as that numbers refer to incidents rather than unique individuals. 

Whitlock also pointed out a significant issue with drugs that are resistant to naloxone, such as Xylazine, and stressed the need for real-time data.

“We need the bad batch data in real-time and we need the toxicology report so we can let community people know like, hey, you don’t want that,” Whitlock said.

Apart from providing data trends, BCDH said the dashboard also offers information on the science of addiction and access to resources, including naloxone training and treatment resources.  

Check out the dashboard

Companies: Baltimore City Health Department / City of Baltimore

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.


EcoMap Technologies cofounder Pava LaPere has been found dead

Conscious Venture Lab just kicked off its 10th accelerator cohort

4 tips for strategic financial planning, from cash flow to tax credits

Pava LaPere: Baltimore tech community remembers ‘beloved’ founder and CEO

Technically Media