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By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The American Red Cross is turning to social media to better target the needs of people after disaster strikes.

The Red Cross rolled out the Digital Operations Center that will be able to monitor Twitter and other Social Media in a partnership with the Dell computer company.

Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO of the Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, says the center – based in Washington D.C. at Red Cross headquarters – would be activated in times of a disaster, even one right here in our own back yard.

“Let’s say something happened in Fishtown and there were a dozen or so Tweets coming out of Fishtown with requests for help, we would be able to red flag that area and target the assistance necessary.”

Cardwell Hughes says the system would also enable specially trained Red Cross volunteers here to join in a response to larger-scale disasters several states away by providing data they can access on food, water, shelters, and other critical information using computers in the volunteer’s home.

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