Twitter is now an emergency aid service

twitteralertTwitter launched Twitter Alerts today as a way for public institutions and NGOs to send out emergency alerts via text messages and push notifications.

The new feature is pretty simple. Users can receive emergency notifications from authorized agencies who are on the service by activating the alerts at an organization’s setup page (twitter.com/[username]/alerts). You can also see if the agency has alerts on its main Twitter profile page.

Whenever the agency marks a Tweet as an alert, you’ll receive a message to your phone via SMS and the Twitter app as push notifications. On your Twitter timeline, tweeted alerts will have an orange bell so to separate them from every other tweet.

The Twitter Alerts program is available to “local, national and international institutions that provide critical information to the general public,” and open to those in the U.S., Japan and Korea for now. Participating organizations already include fire departments, police departments and other government and state agencies.

Twitter actually tried something similar last year with its Lifeline feature that helped Japanese Twitter users easily locate emergency information.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    This is very interesting and actually gives more credence to something that I was thinking when following the attacks in Kenya (and how both the government and the attackers were using Twitter).

    Specifically that Twitter is fast becoming something more akin to a global utility than a company. It holds a singular place out there and I think the world would suffer if it went away anytime soon.

    If there was a risk of it going away, I could see something happen like the UN or some other multi-national entity takes it on not to make money but simply to keep it available.

  • Mark Dumont

    This is very interesting indeed. But calling is way faster then tweeting.

    PS, think Twitter need a huisstijl ontwerpen : http://www.fishtankmedia.nl/