While the UK government is trialling the use of SMS text messages and GSM cell broadcast to inform members of the public during a local or national emergency, Twitter is introducing its own scheme.
Twitter Alerts enable the sender to highlight urgent tweets, which will cause them to be delivered by text message and highlighted with an orange bell icon when they’re received by the Twitter iOS or Android app.
The Twitter Alerts program is being made available by the company to local, national and international institutions that provide the public with critical information. At the moment around 100 organisations - mainly in the USA - can send alerts, although the list is being expanded to include more public institutions and non-government organisations.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said “Social media has revolutionized communication during disasters. Today we have a two-way street - residents are informed about hazards in real time and emergency managers receive immediate feedback on the consequences of a disaster. Twitter Alerts provide an opportunity to get information directly from trusted sources.”