A study that will appear in tomorrow's New Scientist magazine found that social media sites, blogs, and instant messaging services were better at connecting people and providing warnings during emergencies than traditional sources of such information, according to the Telegraph. Dr. Leysia Palen, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado, led a research team that studied uses of social media during last fall's wildfires in California and last spring's shootings at Virginia Tech for the report.
During the wildfires, the team found that people were using Twitter to spread updates about where the fires were to friends and family, and Google maps mashups were hacked together to keep people informed of new fires and schools and businesses that were closed. This information was was being disseminated far more quickly than via official governmental channels, according to the report.
Source: article from readwriteweb.com