A website created a year ago to warn people about dangerous drugs in the community is proving to be a valuable tool in preventing harm.
the High alert site operated by Drug Information and Alerts Aotearoa New Zealand – DIANZ, acts as an early warning system to help reduce drug harms in New Zealand.
It identifies where damage is occurring, provides evidence and understanding of damage epidemics, and in some cases anticipates potential harm from drug use.
The website celebrates its first anniversary this week, and over the past 12 months, more than 211,000 people have visited the site, generating over 329,000 pageviews.
The site has published 83 articles educating the public and helping reduce drug-related harm, and issued ten public alerts on dangerous drugs in the community, including synthetic cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, and a toxic chemical falsely sold under the name of MDMA.
Detective Inspector Blair Macdonald, director of police at the National Drug Intelligence Bureau – NDIB – says a key goal for DIANZ is to create a mailing list so that it can reach people by email when it comes to issuance of an alert or notification.
DIANZ started with a network of 53 professional contacts which grew to 430, and 4,798 members of the public have now signed up to receive notifications about dangerous drugs.
“This helps support High Alert’s enormous potential to prevent damage and continuing to increase this audience will ultimately help save lives,” Detective Inspector Macdonald said.
Detective Inspector Macdonald says that over the summer, DIANZ ran a digital marketing campaign encouraging festival-goers to sign up for the mailing list.
The value of this quickly became evident as DIANZ worked closely with KnowYourStuffNZ – KYS – and the New Zealand Drug Foundation to monitor drug trends and acute drug harms during the December festival period. and January.
“When KnowYourStuffNZ reported a strong presence of Eutylone in what people thought was MDMA, DIANZ was able to use their network to spread the word about the problem and ultimately reduce the damage.”
In the past year, the High Alert Facebook and Instagram pages were launched and reach 1.1 million people, of which nearly 60,000 engage in posts.
The audience demographics are predominantly 18 to 34 year olds in urban centers.
Detective Inspector Macdonald says the value of his social media audience has become particularly clear with the most recent High Alert notification reporting damage from synthetic cannabinoids in the lower North Island.
A Facebook post was promoted in Wellington, Palmerston North and Wairarapa and reached 60,635 people and generated 1,756 engagements, including 6,019 link clicks and 415 shares.
The post was also shared by several organizational and community pages which amplified its reach, including the Wellington Police District and Central Police District Facebook pages which generated significant engagement.
âThis is a great example of communities working together to reduce damage. “
The DIANZ team also spread the high alert message through field activities over the past 12 months, attending O-Week Market Days at the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and at Massey University.
“It allowed the team to have insightful conversations with the students ahead of some major music festivals, and it helped bring High Alert to a key audience.”