Technology and social media are very prominent in our society these days. A lot of cities, and law enforcement agencies in our area are using that to their advantage.

Getting information out to people isn't too difficult today with social media and all the different types of technology. There are lots of organizations on social media all for different reasons. But the two local organizations say the speed and simplicity is the biggest benefit.

As a way to stay closer to the community the Sparta Police Department is beginning to send out text alerts.

"We've kind of made a commitment to delve into the technology because we're trying to increase our footprint within the city and we know that social media and technology is one way to do that," Sparta Police Chief Mike Kass said.

The alerts will come to a person's cell phone. All you need to do is sign up.

"We're going to try to reserve sending out these alerts for kind of major events. traffic rerouting, commuting information we'll let the public know when it's OK to turn their water off," Kass said.

The Sparta PD is also using its Facebook and Twitter accounts to interact with residents.

"A lot of people are much more comfortable sending a facebook message to us then they are picking up the phone and calling in for us to answer a question," Kass said.

And the interaction is helping fight crime.

"It's not uncommon for us to get five or six messages a week just through our Facebook site or get crime tips through our Facebook site," Kass said.

The La Crosse Firefighter's Union is also using social media to connect with the public it serves.

"I think the speed is probably the biggest benefit. Most of the time you never really heard what we were doing in the community or half the fires went on half the calls we went on unless they were on the news so know we can get it out there right away and people can see what we're doing," said Kyle DuMez of La Crosse Firefighters IAFF Local 127.

But no matter how each organization uses social media. Both see a lot of benefits.  

"You know I think it's a different way I think of looking at a police departments interaction with the community but we're in a different age and it's actually a different way of fighting crime.  Social media has become a pretty popular crime fighting tool," Kass said.

The Sparta Police Department has also thought about adding a mobile app. They said they'll look into the idea because it's another fast effective way to spread their message.

The Sparta Police Department just began advertising for its text alerts program Thursday and the police chief said they already have a couple hundred people signed up.