How Cities Can Use ER Data to Establish Violence Interventions

From Cardiff, Wales, to Atlanta, anonymized ER data shared with communities and public safety reveals community-based interventions that reduced violence.

"It may seem like common sense for hospitals and police departments to work together," wrote Laura Leviton, PhD, and George Hobor of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) about the Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention that begins in the emergency room with ER data.

While predictive analytics run by police are facing lawsuits in the United States, a series of successful violence interventions developed from anonymized Welsh ER data shared with local police after the millennium were not only analyzed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but became the basis of a successful public health/public safety partnership in Metropolitan Atlanta aimed at driving down crime in hotspots.

ER Data Reveals Opportunities for Violence Intervention
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Through a CDC Foundation grant funded by the RWJF, DeKalb County Police Department and Grady Memorial Hospital established the United States Injury Prevention Partnership (USIPP) in 2015 based on the Cardiff Model.

In the Welsh city, public safety and public health partners found data showed that violent assaults were regularly occurring in the city's entertainment district. Through further analysis by the Violence Prevention Board, Cardiff learned that fights would erupt when intoxicated people bumped into each other on sidewalk or waited for taxis or in fast food lines. The city worked to make streets more pedestrian-friendly, relocated bus and taxi stands where needed and assigned marshals to help manage foot traffic.

As a result, hospital admissions due to violence halved between 2002 and 2013.

Partnering with Communities to Disrupt Crime Hot Spots

In DeKalb, ER nurses collect anonymous data from trauma patients -- how, when and where their injury occurred. The data is mapped to help the partnership decide where to focus police and community prevention strategies to curtail violence.

The USIPP is partnering with local businesses to increase security and reduce crime. For example, a local hotel owner started an afterschool program to give students a safe space.

The DeKalb County Police Department is using the data to deploy personnel and resources designated for interventions. "Research has shown that disrupting crime “hot spots” is an effective way to reduce crime—they do not get displaced to nearby neighborhoods," according to the article.

The goal of the DeKalb partnership is to gather more data from other Atlanta-area hospitals to further pinpoint the hot spots ripe for community-based interventions.

By working together, there is great potential to develop strategies that keep people out of jail and out of harm’s way, creating safer, more productive communities for us all," Leviton and Hobor wrote.

Access the original story on the RWJF Culture of Health Blog.

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