When the shooting happened on Ft. Hood in 2009, I was in a classroom less than twenty minutes from the base. Immediately, all nearby campuses went on lockdown, but no one knew why. Teachers eventually received an email with some vague information, but no specifics were given. Of course, we have internet connection within our classroom, so once students were receiving news of a shooting on base from texts, I started searching. Surprisingly, twitter gave me quicker and more accurate updates from people on the ground. Countless times CNN was behind or incorrect in information. Granted, some people spouted false information in order to gain recognition, but with some investigation and fact-checking, it was incredibly useful to follow events. Between students texting parents (those on the base and those hearing news from friends involved) and tweets coming from ft. hood, I gained all the information I needed.
This isn't the first time I've used twitter for information, either. Last spring, a huge storm blew through my city. My husband was gone and I was alone on the third floor of an apartment. The sky quickly turned green and the news turned to watching a supercell grow as it approached our area. Eventually, the weather turned nasty enough I had to retreat to the bathroom. So with my laptop, phone, pillows, blankets and dog snuggled (un)comfortably within the tub, I tried to listen to the news on the TV in the living room. It didn't work. The storm was too loud, my dogs nervous whines too persistent. I turned to twitter for information. I knew before the station's livefeed when a cell touched down less than a mile away. I also knew when it wasn't necessary to take cover. A friend let me know the coast was clear - and sure enough - when I left the bathroom there was a small break in the clouds.
There was also a huge fire in a local neighborhood last year - through twitter, people were mobilized and within hours a system was set in place for donations and crisis volunteers. Those who lost everything had places to stay, food, clothing and other essentials. All because of tweeting.
These are just a few examples of the reliability of twitter. The revolution in Iran proved twitter capable of changing not only people's minds about Britney's sex life but also politics - so much so that users were asked to change their locations to Iran in order to protect those actually there. And many did! Because of this, I feel if something were to happen in Austin, my best bet would be to check what people were saying on twitter. Safe houses? People would be tweeting locations. Spots to avoid? Same. Again - fact checking is necessary, but I follow enough reliable people I would more than likely trust what they had to say.