I suppose that if you have been in a bunker somewhere for the last two-three years you might not have heard about how social media has the "potential" to transform how emergency management gains and maintains situational awareness, transmits warnings and collects damage assessments, etc. etc.
Someone sent me an article from almost a year ago. This CNN story, Heading off disaster, one tweet at a time is a great synopsis of what is going on with social media and disasters. In particular I'd call your attention to the value that mapping social media brings to the table and the fact that if you don't do it, someone else will be doing it--and you have no control over them and their activities.
This new disaster volunteer may live thousands of miles away from the epicenter of the disaster, but they can be part of your team, if you just let them. ESRI is the king of maps and they certainly "get it" when it comes to leveraging the spatial analysis that comes from putting social media information on a map. They have helped with major disasters for years and their Homeland Security team led by Russ Johnson is always available to help jurisdictions during events. Better yet, how about doing some planning and putting the mechanisms in place before an event.
I know that Pierce County, Washington has a project they are going to start soon in cooperation with the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). I'm very excited about that work and will keep you informed as it progresses.