Written byColby Hochmuth
Providing real-time updates from first responders and federal agencies, Twitter has become a useful tool when disaster strikes.
New Yorkers received tweets about an East Coast earthquake 30 seconds before they actually felt it. During the Boston Marathon manhunt, users looked to Twitter for safety updates from Boston police and the Department of Homeland Security. When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard, those affected turned to Twitter to notify first responders of their location and safety status.
Now Twitter has added another tool to its arsenal to help the public in times of a crisis. Launched today, Twitter Alerts will send notifications with accurate information from credible organizations, such as federal agencies, to cell phones through text messages or a push notification.
Although most institutions can register for Twitter Alerts, sign-up priority goes to law enforcement and public-safety agencies, emergency management agencies, city and municipal government, county and regional agencies, as well as state federal and national agencies and NGOs.
The Interior Department, Federal Emergency Management Agency, State Department, National Park Service and DHS are among the early adopters of this service.
Twitter Alerts are intended for crisis, disaster and emergency communications, including:
- warnings for imminent dangers
- preventive instructions
- evacuation directions
- urgent safety alerts
- information on access to essential resources
- information on critical transit and utility outages
- crowd and misinformation management