Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The role of social media in public alerting

Just posted my latest entry on PTSC-Online. It's all about the growing role of social networks in warning the public about impending emergencies.

Recent event in the United States have shown the value of Twitter as an emergency information and notification tool. Here's an excerpt of the post:

In many cases, that unofficial tool, volunteer/citizen-driven, is faster, more responsive and more accurate than warnings provided through official means. But does that mean that Twitter should be at the top of your notification process? What place should it occupy on your notification checklist? 
While not a perfect tool, I would venture that changing expectations among our audiences have made social networks, one of the first (if not the first) elements of your notification and alerting systems that should be activated. Is that a stretch? I don't believe so. An overreliance on traditional broadcasters can really limit the effectiveness and reach of your alerts when some stats indicate that as many as 40 per cent of the population doesn NOT watch TV, listen to the radio or read newspapers. They get their info online, primarily through social networks.
What do you think ? 


  1. I agree with your post.

    Just as new hard and soft initiatives need to deal with aging infrastructure new methods of communication need to also be considered for notification and alerting systems catering to your target group.

    Speaking personally, I am part of that 40% that does not watch tv or listen to the radio often but I do stay connected on my smart phone to apps such as FB, Twitter and I like to get my news from apps as well to be more eco-friendly.

    No tool is perfect but when considering what is most effective to fit your purpose, I agree that social media in public alerting has great power.

  2. Just discovered your blog today. It's great! Thanks.

    Using social media to proactively alert the public of an impending emergency or disaster is something I have been looking into over the last few months. The data is there, only companies seem to have no interest in developing it. If there is a new surge of Tweets that extends beyond the baseline number of tweets, there should be a way to send an alert. For instance, if the tweet graph for a certain topic (such as earthquake, tsunami, etc.) rises dramatically (over x% of normal chatter), an alert text can be sent out. Until this happens, many people will feel social media is too time consuming, ie they have to check their SM sources too frequently. I'd love to get your take on this.