Social media plays major role in storm response - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Social media plays major role in storm response

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PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Larry Richardson heads down to the beach every morning and snaps a few photos. When he gets home he chooses the best of the bunch to share with friends on Facebook.

But during severe weather and emergencies, it’s not only Richardson’s friends who will be looking at this photos. The Emergency Operations Center has a team dedicated to mining social media. Monitoring what your sharing that could be relevant to first responders. And when disaster strikes, people like Richardson become the eyes of the community.

“As individuals take pictures of damage, pictures of incidents, we'll use that information,” explained Bill Johnson Director of Emergency Management for Palm Beach County. "We'll collect that information to help us get either a snap shot of the situation or size up that situation. We'll verify it and use that to help us get a better picture county wide."

Social media serves as an on the ground, real time account that can support the decision making process in an emergency.

"It's a great way for us to gather more information," Johnson says.

And it's an easy way for Richardson or anyone who shares photos to Facebook to help out when disaster strikes.

"I'll post anything that I see," says Richardson. "Anything I find interesting and if I see something that people need to be warned about I'll certainly take a quick shot."

To follow the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center search PBCDEM on Facebook and Twitter .

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