Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Utah Agencies Find Ways to Leverage Social Media

Increasingly, state agencies are using social media to interact with Utah citizens and businesses in ways that enhance their mission.  One of the best examples has been the use of Twitter to provide immediate communications during emergencies.  On December 21, 2010, as floods threatened homes and property in Rockville and other southern Utah communities, emergency responders used Twitter to let people know of evacuation orders, endangered areas, even how to evacuate pets and other animals.  The Washington County Sheriff, St. George Police, Utah Division of Homeland Security and others were able to get the word out quickly.  Twitter also provides ways to access updates using SMS on any cell phone, further adding to its utility during emergency situations.  Users can also use other tools like the example of Flipboard on the iPad (example shown above) to aggregate content from Twitter lists based on need and interest.

Agencies are also using other social media tools, including Slideshare, Facebook, and Issue for online publishing, community building, etc. as an increasingly larger share of Utah's population tune into these services on a daily basis for information.  Many Utah agencies have started using weblogs to communicate content that is not easily conveyed in the short 140-character messages allowed on Twitter.

Multimedia content is added to the mix through sites like YouTube.  The State's YouTube site features hundreds of useful videos organized into over 15 separate channels.

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