Facebook to expand local alerts to bring crisis information to your news feed

HUD has released federal guidance for how Louisiana can use $1.2 billion in flood mitigation funds. (Source: Roger Pottorff)

(WZAW) -- In times of crisis, it can be hard to gather the most current information on what is happening in our local areas.

Many of us will automatically turn to our phones to get details on severe weather or how road work will impact our lives.

Facebook has seen such a positive impact from a new tool it's been testing, that it's expanding it nationally.

Jimmy O'Keefe, a product marketing leader at Facebook joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 via Skype on Wednesday.

O'Keefe said local alerts is a new tool for local governments and first responders to help keep people safe in your community.

"We've been testing for over a year with a bunch of different partners, including one right here in Wisconsin, and we're planning to roll out Facebook local alerts to folks like police departments, fire departments and city and county governments starting at the end of this year."

He added that the information spread though local alerts is what people want.

"We did a survey, and three out of four people told us the information they saw on Facebook local alerts was brand new information that they hadn't seen anywhere else," O'Keefe said. "And one our of two people told us that information inspired them to take some sort of concrete action that enabled them to stay safe or plan their day."

He also said it's a tool that is easy to use. Facebook also ensures the alerts will be seen in your news feed.

For example, if there is a fire in the area and you need to know information about road closures in that area, you would open up your Facebook app, and you would see that notification directly from your local authorities and get the information you need to know.

All you have to do to make sure you get the local alerts when they roll out at the end of the year, is follow your local government and local authority pages where you live.