When it comes to public safety, forward-thinking government agencies are using social media to improve situational and emergency awareness.
The very nature of social media’s open communication and crowdsourced information provides a powerful tool for public safety agencies.
Take, for instance, the Twitter user who unknowingly tweeted in real-time about the Osama Bin Laden raid, or the Florida deputy who used Facebook to negotiate a standoff, or the kidnapper who found time to update his Facebook friends.
A 911 center supervisor recently talked to me about the role social media played during a mall shooting. While police units established a perimeter around the mall and assessed the situation, they tried to sift through conflicting reports on the shooter.
A 911 dispatcher jumped on Twitter and Flickr, and was actually able to obtain photos of the shooter, posted by witnesses inside the mall.
Imagine the value that information provided to the incident commander and tactical operators on the scene.