Surveillance concerns and opportunities: using technology devices for overdose detection

Research co-leads: 

  • Dr. Lianping Ti
    University of British Columbia, British Columbia Centre on Substance Use  

Research user co-lead:

  • Sampath Satti
    Brave Technology Cooperate

Team members: 

  • Shawna Blomskog
    Brave Technology Cooperate
  • Jenna van Draanen
    British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, UBC
  • Rod Knight
    British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, UBC
  • Jeffrey Morgan
    British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Community-Based Research Centre
  • Oona Krieg
    Brave Technology Cooperate

The proposed activities include two workshops aimed at the collaborative development of a community-informed research agenda at the intersection of applied ethics and the use of technology to combat the overdose crisis. Brave Technology Coop (Brave) is currently piloting a new technology -a sensor that can detect changes in breathing- to aid in monitoring bathrooms for overdose intervention in commercial buildings in Vancouver's downtown eastside, with research support from the BC Centre on Substance Use.

While this intervention has the potential to make spaces safer, it also introduces privacy concerns for people accessing these spaces, particularly people who use drugs (PWUD) who face stigmatization and criminalization. Our aim is to convene stakeholders in Vancouver in November 2019 and February 2020 to discuss the ethical implications of surveillance in spaces where people may be using drugs, including how consent should be obtained with the use of passive overdose detection devices, and how to maintain privacy of sensitive data collected.

We will ultimately develop a collaborative research agenda that will facilitate PWUD, researchers, research users, and community stakeholders to co-develop systems of overdose response.