Sunday, February 27, 2011

On the 15th of Februrary, there was an emergency on the campus of St. Edwards. 

"Suicidal Subject Standoff - Currently, a suicidal standoff is occuring at 511 Woodward Ave. near campus. Please stay away from Woodward St. and the south side of campus. Stay in your residence and secure your rooms. We will continue to monitor and update you with further information."

The University police department sent out this email to every student at St. Edward's.  This might sound like everyone would know about the situation as soon as they sent the email, but people only check their email every so often, sometimes not even once a day.  However, in less than an hour, the news was buzzing across all forms of social media.  I thought it would be interesting to analyze how important information about emergencies can be spread within a few hours.

To start things off, the initial situation had to occur, and the police had to have been informed of a potential suicide/shooter situation.  Someone at the scene of the crime had to radio in to the office that the situation was serious enough to endanger the students on campus, and the email was sent to every student enrolled at St. Edward's.  Then they had to close off Woodward Ave and the streets leading into campus.  
All it took was one person to check their email, see the message, and post it to Facebook to get the information to spread exponentially.  I heard about it from my room-mates.  I wasn't on the computer and they told me to check my Facebook and Email.  I saw a status from a friend that said, "STAY IN YOUR RESIDENCES AND SECURE YOUR ROOM GUYS, THIS IS IMPORTANT."

From there, I saw more statuses about the situation.  People were scared.  I sent text messages to my close friends on campus and my family.  And being as adventurous as I am, I decided to go take a picture of the situation, so I could show everyone what was actually happening.

There were about a dozen police cars, 2 SWAT APC's, and the entire road was blocked off.  I took the picture, went back to my room, and posted the picture on Facebook.  By that time, everyone was confused, worried, and scared about what was happening.  I posted the picture to give an update that people were looking for.  Lots of people saw the picture and they were glad I posted it.  One message from one email spread virally throughout the community of St. Edward's by different means of communication.  It seemed like there was this Central Intersection of Communication with Exponential connections while this information was being spread.  Thats what social media is and should be; exponential connections of information.

About 3 hours later, we received an email from the University Police Department again. "The suicidal subject standoff has ended.  All roads are clear and open.  Campus has returned to normal operations."  No one was killed and everyone on campus was safe.  A news article followed up on the situation the next morning.  The only reason I saw it was because the article was posted on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good example of how effective social media is in getting important news across. If I hadn’t had my phone number as an emergency contact for St.Eds, then I would have never known this scary situation was occurring because it happened so late, and I don’t check my email at that time. I really like your chart as well, it’s a good way in explaining how messages get sent out!