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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How Twitter Could Have Helped Virginia Tech

The horrific events that happened at Virgina Tech University yesterday are a terribly tragedy and they could have happened anywhere at anytime. We live in a free society, the freest in the world, and the same event could happened tomorrow at your local Starbucks. It's the sad reality of it. The only thing we, Virginia Tech or anyone else can do is be prepared. All over the news yesterday, today and in the future we hear and read about why VaTech didn't send out an alert email in the two hours between the first shooting and second shooting. Assuming that 100% of students would have gotten and received an email regarding a killer loose on campus, it may not have mattered. What were the kids supposed to do? It may not have changed the outcome but it would have been valuable information for the students to make their own decision about if they want to go outside or not. Sure an email is better than nothing but not everyone checks their email before they head out to class so its not very likely that it would have been very effective. According to the university President, 9,000 of the 26,000 students live on campus that leaves 17,000 students off-campus plus 10,000 faculty. How many of these students and faculty, who we can assume were in transit to campus would have received the email? Not many. This past week I've been attempting to use Twitter in order to figure out what the real benefit and hype is, I even forced a friend of mine to sign up so I could have someone to experiment with. After a few days of fiddling around with it, overall I can't really see the benefit to using it. Until yesterday. Twitter could be effectively used to instantaneously contact a majority of students at any university to alert them to the current state of affairs. Almost every student would check their IM in the morning to see if their friends have messaged them and not many students would head out to class without picking up their cell phone to take with them. When an incident happens students and faculty can be aware of the situation and also given directions in order to keep themselves safe. With a little work the system could be custom fitted for universities and corporations for this kind of situation allowing employees, students and faculty to help keep each other aware and safe in emergency situations.

By Matt O'Hern at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

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