Cook County has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its Medical Examiner online data portal that provides up-to-date information about deaths in Cook County’s, including those caused by gun violence and the opioid epidemic.
In 2017, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office and Cook County’s Bureau of Technology teamed up to create the first-of-their-kind interactive dashboards, maps and an open dataset providing the public with a geographic visualization of every Medical Examiner case since 2014. The system is updated daily.
“Our County, like many others, is facing the gun violence and an opioid epidemic. I am hopeful that our Medical Examiner data portal will aid researchers, medical professionals, law enforcement, journalists and the public,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “I am grateful the National Association of Counties has recognized our effort to increase transparency and educate the public as we grapple with these issues.”
Cook County is the second largest County in the United States by population and has the second largest medical examiner office. Approximately 6,000 deaths fall within the office’s jurisdiction every year.
In Cook County last year, 743 people died as a result of gun violence.
Cook County has also seen a marked increase in the use of opioids. In 2017, approximately 1,100 people died due to opioid overdose. In 2016, 1,091 people died from an opioid overdose – a 70 percent increase compared to 2015.
Part of the online data initiative includes interactive maps, which users can customize to visualize where deaths are occurring, create heat maps and locate clusters and trends.
NACo President Roy Charles Brooks said, “Counties seize opportunities to deliver services more efficiently and build stronger communities every day. Achievement Award-winning programs are examples for counties that are determined to enhance services for our residents.”
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and more.
NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition July 13-16 in Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.