Social media can play an important role in responding to emergency situations by allowing for timely communication of important facts and information. The Toronto Police Service recognizes the importance of being active on social platforms and has trained more than 300 staff on how to use social media.
Communicating over social media channels gives the police the advantage of instant communication to the public. Instead of having to wait for a press release, press conference, or the 6pm news, the police can clear up rumours and provide correct information and assurance in emergency situations. The TPS can also monitor social media to learn more about situations and emergencies as they unfold.
Even though the Toronto Police Service accounts carry a disclaimer that they are not monitored 24/7 and officers encourage the public to report information via traditional methods, communities have turned to reporting non-emergency information on social networks. In a recent study done by the Canadian Red Cross, 63% of Canadians said that they think emergency responders should be using social media, of whom 73% said they think help would arrive if they put a call for help on social media.
For more information about the survey click here.