Twitter Public Alerts

Twitter recently announced its new system, Twitter Alerts, will enable public institutions and NGOs to send out emergency alerts via text message and push notifications to its followers in times of crisis. Twitter users can sign up to receive emergency notifications from specific accounts and will receive a text message or push notification on their smartphone.

Twitter birdTwitter clearly states that Twitter Alerts will not replace official emergency notification systems or services, but rather should be used as a complementary channel of information. It is important to note that Twitter Alerts will only be delivered to people with Twitter accounts that have chosen to follow and receive special alerts from any given organization. These alerts will only be delivered via the Twitter app or visible in the Twitter feed online. Twitter Alerts are not location based and are not a replacement for localized phone, text and email alerts.

Twitter says it will give priority access to law enforcement and public safety, emergency management, city and municipal governments, county and regional agencies providing services to cities and municipalities, certain state, federal and national agencies and NGOs.

Government organizations can enroll in the program by submitting an online application to Twitter and agreeing to make security adjustments on their Twitter accounts.  Then, there’s a special process for sending the alerts via Twitter. They’ll show up differently than other Tweets, depending on the mobile device being used.

In addition to the texts and notifications, ‘alert’ tweets will appear alongside an orange bell icon in the Twitter stream.

Among the more than 70 organizations already participating are the American Red Cross, FEMA, NOAA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and various state and local emergency management agencies, fire departments and more.

Twitter users must sign up for each individual organization’s alerts in order to receive them. Users can specify which accounts they’d like to receive alerts from at their setup page:[username]/alerts.

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