In our increasingly online society, constant use of social media websites is becoming more and more common place. While knowing where your friends are eating and the latest breakups seems a common usage for such sites, perhaps there is a better use of this technology: public safety.
The use of sites like Facebook and Twitter for safety situations is not unheard of these days. There have been times, such as the recent Virgina Tech shootings, when police officials and other safety agents were able to make use of posts by those inside or affected by the situation to gain information such as description and location of the shooters.
However, as most people who use social media sites probably know, there can be a lot of noise to sift through, which can make it difficult for officials to get to the useful information. This can also be a problem for the other possible use of social media for safety, one that's more common: making the public aware of potential issues such as high traffic areas, crime scenes to avoid, and other warnings.
Social media could definitely become more common as a tool for public safety, both getting information to and from the public. Mashable has an interesting article on this, which can be found in the source link below. I'd say it's worth a read.