Twitter As An Emergency Broadcast System? Doesn't It Have To Work Regularly First?

from the just-saying... dept

While we definitely found the story of a student in Egypt using Twitter to alert people that he had been arrested interesting, it does seem like a bit of a stretch to then say that it makes sense to create an emergency alert system via Twitter. Though it has some potential to be powerful, an emergency alert system needs to be reliable — and Twitter is rather infamous for its pretty regular downtime.

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Comments on “Twitter As An Emergency Broadcast System? Doesn't It Have To Work Regularly First?”

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JSP says:

yeah, it's really fast

Remember how everyone bragged how fast twitter was reporting on the earthquake in China? And how it turned out twitter messages beat the USGS by a whole 3 minutes?

So if the power goes out and I can’t get twitter messages via the web, or the cell phone system is overloaded and messages get dropped, how exactly will this work better than, say, radio?

Ed says:

There already are...

There already are Emergency Broadcast Systems. There are even EBS that use SMS to send texts out to cellphones. Using Twitter as an EBS would just have it be an intermediary with a heck of a lot of downtime. Why not just cut out the middle-man (Twitter) and have it sent directly from disaster-management agencies, or your own cellphone providers? Actually, many already do offer services like these.

Chirag Mehta (user link) says:

Social computing in enterprise software - leveraging Twitter like microblogging capabilities

I have a follow up post on my blog that I have pasted here without HTML formatting:

Twitter was buzzing with posts on the recent L.A earthquake nine minutes before AP officially broke the news. This Twitter phenomenon once again proved that unintended consequences are always larger than intended consequences. As we would have never imagined people find amusing ways of using Twitter ranging from keeping buddies updated and getting caught drinking when they called in sick and the boss followed their tweets to ensue wave of media coverage to get out of jail. A recent proposal to use Twitter as an emergency system met with stark criticism citing Twitter’s availability issues. I don’t see this as an “either or” proposition. The answer is “and” and not “yes, but”. Let’s use Twitter for what it is worth. It’s a great microblogging and crowdsourcing tool to tap into the wisdom of crowd with a very little overhead and almost no barrier to entry.

Enterprise software should seriously consider this social computing phenomenon and leverage its capabilities by integrating such a tool in their offerings. For instance a social CRM application can use such a tool to help sales people effectively follow, collaborate, and close opportunities. The customer support system can provide transparency into the defect resolution process by service representatives tweeting the progress instead of logging it in semi-static IT ticket systems.

Following individual tweets has its obvious advantages but correlating multiple tweets could be extremely powerful and could yield to interesting nontraditional usage models such as using it to run predictive markets, sentiment analysis, or to track a recall on salmonella tainted tomatoes in real-time.

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