As I'm sure you've heard there was a bit of disruption at the Capitol today. One of my best friends works there and alerted me to the situation as she was in lockdown. While clearly not a disaster one bit of the whole thing caught my attention.
Apparently Twitter has created an emergency alert feature and the Senate used it to alert people in the Capitol to shelter in place today. They debuted it a week ago (I'm surprised I'm just hearing of this now). Apparently government agencies and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) can send out emergency alerts to individuals that have signed up in advance. The alert is tweeted but is also pushed to the phone. While there are many emergency alert systems (my phone seems to always be flashing about one thing or another) that you can sign up for but I'm interested to see if this one gains a following. It has a lot going for it - I could see young people, especially high school/ college age being more inclined to sign up for a service on twitter over something "official". It also looks like they send alerts for things that aren't exactly emergencies but that you might like to know ASAP - they used it to announce info on the shutdown. Agencies and organizations already have an established following too. Obviously this shouldn't and won't replace the systems already in place but I think it could reach a new audience.
Of course when I went to see a list of available agencies/ NGOs to sign up with I received this message:
SMH... oh well... maybe by the time you're reading this they're up and running...
"Twitter already has more than 70 participants for the new system, including The American Red Cross, FEMA, and global non-profits like the World Health Organization. In addition to state and regional accounts (like the New Jersey State Police), Twitter Alerts also partners with a number of international accounts, mostly in Japan."
For me personally my first stop is ALWAYS twitter when I catch wind that something has happened. While the media takes time to get there twitter is already flying. I've also found twitter to be much quicker and interestingly more accurate than Facebook. Anecdotal evidence but I'm sure you can find a study somewhere...
Unless a major disaster happens in the next 4 days (don't worry, my eye is on the gulf* and FEMA) I'll be MIA from the blogging world. I have some serious Thesis-ing to do and a trip to Winnipeg with some friends on Saturday! We had been planning on going to Mt. Rushmore but since Congress... I digress... the point is - luckily we live close to Canada.
*Several of the government social media sites that I usually rely on for gulf activity are shutdown but this one is still operating on Facebook... it's good at least for the New Orleans area (which may not be helpful since this looks like it will be more of an Alabama/ Florida event...although given the NOLA K-named storm history... you never know).