Give Now

Bloomington To Alter Overdose Deaths Map After Community Criticism

A screenshot of bloomingtonrevealed.com shows the controversial information: a map of exact addresses where overdose deaths occurred in the county (blur added).

Bloomington officials will slightly modify a controversial map on a city website that shows exact addresses of overdose deaths throughout Monroe County.

But the map will still show locations for each overdose, and specific addresses will be available elsewhere on the site.

The decision comes after city officials met with concerned community leaders on Tuesday.

According to a statement from Mayor John Hamilton’s office, the map will remain on the city website with dots indicating where an overdose death has occurred.

The exact street address will be removed from the map. Instead, a note will indicate whether the location is a business, residence or public property.

Bloomington Communications Director Yael Ksander says the site reconstruction is underway.

“There’s just not that same level of specificity,” she says. “You’ll be able to determine roughly, like a block or a general area, but it’s not going to be discernable as the specific address.”

Ksander says the data is public record.

“The reason we’re doing this is to make it slightly less apparent, although while still maintaining that accessibility,” Ksander says. “It’s owned by all of us. This is data that pertains to fact and phenomena within our community.”

In place of the map and all other associated graphics, a message now says “This graphic is temporarily under reconstruction and will be available again once updates have been made.”

It’s not clear when the adjusted map will return to the site.

Indiana Recovery Alliance Director Chris Abert says the city should remove the map altogether.

“To be criminalized and stigmatized at the same time, there are very specific rules that you use on the release of this kind of data,” Abert said in an interview shortly before the city announced the changes. “While it may be legal to put this type of data up, it’s certainly not ethical.”

Hamilton says the data about where deaths are occurring can help city and community leaders respond to the drug abuse epidemic.

“At the same time, we understand that this is a sensitive issue,” Hamilton said in a statement. “As we have done since launching the site, we will continue to consult with those on the front lines of this crisis to follow best practices.”

He says the exact addresses of overdose deaths are public record and will still be available for anyone to download.

The city statement says the overdose death data, including the map with addresses, has been available on the city website since March.

Alex Eady contributed to this report. This post has been updated. 

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From