I thought this was a great commentary on why emergency management officials are really pushing the use of social media (mainly through blogs, Twitter and Facebook).
IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS
From tfcci.com (Twenty First Century Communications)
Not long ago, the only way emergency managers could alert the public about emergency events was through sirens, radio and television. The amount of time to reach the public could often delay breaking news as events occurred. Emergency managers were not assured that everyone in affected areas had been contacted. With alerts going out only in one direction, it wasn't possible for emergency managers to be able to quickly assess and gauge the public's safety and well-being during those events.
Since the advent of the Internet and rapid adoption of mobile technologies such as smartphones, the public has adopted social media at a dizzying pace. Social media is another tool in the tool box for rapid emergency notification, giving emergency managers the capability of a real-time way to send urgent notifications through powerful 2-way interactions that facilitate a way for everyone to read, respond to and share the information with anyone, all within seconds.
The ability to quickly reach such a wide and diverse audience and establish dynamic 2-way communications during events was unimaginable only a few years ago.