Mar 1, 2012 9:47 PM by Jacqui Heinrich

Ohio school shooting reveals value of social media

With people using social media like Twitter and Facebook more than ever, these sites are of growing importance in emergency situations. During the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio this week, students tweeted moment by moment, providing real-time updates to responders who used that information to direct aid.

Local emergency service providers like the Colorado Springs Fire Department are using these online tools to be more effective at their own work. Officials tell us they recognize the value of social media for sending mass-communication and receiving to-the-minute updates in the field. "Other departments have come to us and said how are you doing it, why did you do it, why is our administration in such support of this? And they really are because it is a way to get information out very quickly," Sunny Smaldino told News 5 today.

Experts say built-in social media apps on mobile devices enable people to communicate instantly to a broad network, making these sites resources to both victims and responders. Jeannette Sutton, a Senior Research Scientist at University of Colorado Colorado Springs, studies the value in social media during emergency situations; she says these tools don't stop being useful after a traumatic event. In the past 5 years alone, more people are turning to Twitter and Facebook to organize relief and reach out to those affected, creating a new, farther-reaching medium for healing.



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