Twitter for Emergencies

Twitter is receiving an awful lot of attention at the moment in both print and broadcast media. The terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November was covered widely, as was the online campaign backing up the Israeli attack on Gaza; even well known technology advocate (ha..) Ryan Tubridy decided to dedicate a few minutes on his early morning radio show – which caused blog and twitter debate.

Individual firsts have also been recorded – first twitterers to be report from an air crash, escape from a burning house – and of course DM fails are always just a few keystrokes away.

I hope that I never have to rely on micro blogging for any of the catasatrophic type events like those.

Travelling in the car yesterday evening, I was listening to one of Jon Udell’s Interviews with Innovators; the topic was the December 2008 ice storm in New Hamphshire where two thirds of homes and businesses in the state were directly effected by power outages – over 300,000 customers.

Martin Murray, who works in the corporate communucations department of the public services there – decided to setup up a twitter account (@psnh) to deal with customer queries and to publicise state response to the emeregency; it appears they were pretty successful.

The reality of those days for a lot of people was they were without electricity and without the communication of TV and radio. So instead – many turned to the text messages updates of the comms. dept who relayed the udpates of the repair crews. They also backed that up with a series of youtube videos with management and staff.

I reckon this is clever and useful stuff, easily understood by the wider community of “what the hell is twitter useful for?” and cheap into the bargain….

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