The City of Bloomington is facing criticism for a website that shows a map of drug-related overdoses within the city limits. Some residents call the map an invasion of privacy, but officials say the information has always been public and is part of an attempt to address the opioid epidemic.
The website, bloomingtonrevealed.com, includes various statistics about substance abuse disorder within the county. It shows graphs including the number of overdoses per year, the substances that cause each overdose and the street address where the death occurred.
Monroe County Commissioner Amanda Barge drew attention to the website this week with a Facebook post. In the post, Barge says the website has the potential to embarrass and shame members of the community.
“Why is this an appropriate use of government resources? This cannot stand,” Barge says. “We ought to be using the resources spent to build this website into educating certain members of our city government about Substance Use Disorder.”
But Bloomington Director of Communications Yael Ksander says the website is the result of several discussions among representatives from both the city and county governments over how to determine where to devote resources. Ksander says the site has been active for months.
She says all of the information comes from the county coroner’s office, and the website is part of an effort to increase transparency.
“This data is not proprietary, it’s not something that belongs to the government alone,” Ksander says. “This is a collective good. This belongs to everyone.’
Residents on Facebook voiced concern over the decision to display full street addresses, rather than a more general medium such as a heat map.
Ksander says the map is meant to show the widespread nature of the opioid crisis.
“We’re all grappling with the opioid epidemic, so it’s important to know how extensive it is,” Ksander says.
But she also says the city is willing to consider changing the way that information is displayed.
Ksander says city officials will meet with community leaders involved in treatment of substance abuse disorder and fighting the opioid epidemic Tuesday. There, they will hear feedback on the website and discuss potential changes.
That meeting will not be open to the public.