I can't accept that a 2 hour delay in getting out critical information to the students of Virginia Tech is justified. If a simple obscenity is removed from Wikipedia on average in a couple of minutes, this horrendous massacre that took place at Virginia Tech, should have been communicated much quicker.
According to the Associated Press, students were notified by an "e-mail at 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first shooting. The e-mail had few details. It read: "A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating."
Considering the ubiquity of wireless technology and pervasiveness of social networking & chatter tools available to us there must be better, more innovative ways to get the communications out.
Yes, I realize the need to not create panic and yes, I realize that the complexities are still being understood and part of the problem was lack of decision making but what are the possibilities? Last Friday, Don Tapscott talked about the use of Google Maps in the New Orleans disaster by the general public to identify geographical locations of those needing help because the "authorities" were not able to do so. He also discussed the speed of which information was updated in Wikipedia following the bombings in London.
There is an excellent article in Wired this morning called " Lessons from Virginia Tech: A Disaster Alert System that works" that goes through several options, and how various authorities are starting to take advantage of social computing.
I don't have any concluding thoughts on this topic just a belief that we can leverage "social technology" for the societal good.