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Twitter Alerts: Enhancing Public Safety

Twitter Alerts: Enhancing Public Safety


On Wednesday, September 25, Twitter initiated Twitter Alerts, an emergency alert program for users, providing subscribers real time emergency notifications from sources like FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the American Red Cross, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Agencies such as the NOAA offer free Emergency Alert Services, though Twitter’s comprehensive alert system provides informational feeds from a larger variety of organizations, all on a user friendly platform.

Users can subscribe at Twitter’s FEMA page. Subscribers to Twitter Alerts have the option of receiving alerts via text message, or push notification for those using an iPhone or Android. Twitter’s listed participating organizations include national, regional and state agencies. Twitter plans to expand the service to include more public institutions and NGO’s worldwide.

Currently, federal organizations, as well as public and private organizations across fifteen states and the District of Columbia are included in this free emergency alert service. Alerts can be life-saving: Twitter lists uses for subscriber’s public safety warnings, essential resource access, and transit and utility outages.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allow emergency responders to create real time mapping systems, strategically designed to predict what responses and alert communications are necessary.  The majority of telecommunications, including cellular and internet communication, are transmitted through fiber optic cables. As such, this critical infrastructure is an essential component of emergency response mapping systems, affecting public health and safety, as well as national security.

Fiber optic infrastructure allow agencies to send out emergency alerts and receive user feedback. Real time fiber optic mapping allows responders to adjust for any possible telecommunication disruptions, as telecommunications data gathered and received is essential for emergency response agencies to make accurate projections, and take action accordingly to enhance public safety. If you are interested in obtaining telecom GIS data sets, contact GeoTel Communications at (800) 277-2172.

Valerie Stephen