Laranzo Dacres, Gleaner Writer
Social networks Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger kept many motorists out of harm's way during the recent civil unrest, as many were able to navigate safe routes due to information updates.
Tweet updates on Twitter guided me as to when and where to drive when I was on the road," said Wallen Hutchinson, a Spanish Town resident, who attends the Heart Academy in St Andrew.
He said the information enabled him to skirt "hot spots".
"It worked well because persons who were already in danger zones sent messages as to what was happening, and those receiving the information could make a judgement call as to whether to continue along the routes, stay put or travel other routes," he added.
Online travel agent, Shiquita Woodyard said, in the absence of news reports, it was the postings on Facebook that kept her informed about what was happening on the roads and which routes she should have avoided if she had ventured out.
"There is a Facebook page, called On the Ground News Reports, where information is shared that kept us up-to-date on what was taking place in different sections of the city affected by the limited state of emergency."
The travel agent said she received postings on road blocks and areas to avoid.
"I found them helpful," she continued.
According to Robert Campbell*, it was an update by one of his Facebook friends that kept him out of harm's way.
"On Tuesday, I thought it was safe to head to work. But, on my way I saw a status update on my phone. It alerted me of a shoot-out taking place on my regular bus route to work," he said.
Campbell* said he called to verify the information, which turned out to be true as gunmen were seen in the Cross Roads area where he would have had to walk past.
Bev Jones* related a similar story.
"I, for one, was relying on 'tweets' from different persons living in different areas of Kingston to tell me what they were experiencing. Their reports might not have been official, but when you need information in real time, it works," she told Automotives.
Jones*, who resides in Red Hills, said while travelling to work along Red Hills Road on Tuesday, she sent out advisories on Twitter.
"Persons would, in turn, 'retweet' the reports," she said.
Twenty-five-year old musician Kedon Whyte said the Blackberry messages sent by friends kept him abreast with what was taking place 'on the ground' in downtown Kingston.
"I got a BB message that advised me if I was travelling from Portmore, I should avoid Naggo Head as there was a shoot-out. I found the piece of information very helpful and resent it to others," said Whyte.
During the unrest, a number of organisations used the social network to keep their employees informed as to what was happening at their locations.
* Names changed on request.