When Japan was hit with an Earthquake, Twitter was there. When Osama got taken out, it was live on Twitter. So what does this mean? It means Twitter is a legitimate place for information to spread FAST. On cue, Mexico is the first among what might become an increasing number of countries to use Twitter as an emergency notification system.
Mexico City plans to launch an emergency alert system on the anniversary of an 8.1 quake that struck the city a year ago. The new system will include text messages and information funneled through social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook. Twitter has proven itself quick to react and provides an extremely viable option for officials to get word out quickly. (They’ll certainly need to find a way to deal with fake tips, but the idea is solid.)
In fact, research done after the widespread of swine flu last year, showed that Twitter was a useful took for tracking the outbreak of events like an epidemic. The researchers said while it doesn’t beat systems currently in place, it was effective in providing a feel for the sentiment of the population as well as rough information from which infection projections might be made.
Another interesting story out of Colorado begs the question: Why aren’t government agencies and an official Twitter emergency channel already in place? (There are some out there, but are they legitimate? Couldn’t they be better?) It makes sense and couldn’t be too expensive to implement–a free Hootsuite account, a verified account, and 140 characters later and half the world knows what’s going on.
As Twitter becomes even more accessible and continues to grow it’s member base, the speed with which information roars through the twitterverse will only increase. Looks like it’s so fast, it just may save your life one day. Are you listening?