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  • Twitter's New Emergency System
Technology Articles > Social Networking > Twitter > Twitter's New Emergency System

Can social media save lives in the face of disaster? Twitter thinks so. The social media company is rolling out a new alert system that will help both organizations and Twitter followers find out about those currently in need. As Twitter gears up for its initial IPO, the company is thinking of new ways to generate interest - more below.

The Twitter Emergency Alert System

The World Health Organization, U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Tokyo's Disaster Prevention team have all signed up to be part of Twitter's newest venture. Twitter is asking Twitter users today to sign up for the {{https://blog.twitter.com/2013/twitter-alerts-critical-information-when-you-need-it-most|}} too. Here's how it will work:

1 Twitter users provide the social network with a cellphone number.

2 People that sign up can then alert any of the aforementioned groups of a disaster.

3 Alerts will also be sent to those that are part of the program through push notifications.

The program is a great idea, and it's also an idea that was originally conceived during Hurricane Sandy when Twitter users used the network to communicate news of the hurricane. In turn, organizations sent out pleas to Twitter followers using the same network. So, really, it was a win-win situation, and that's exactly the kind of service that Twitter is aiming to set up this time around too. Only now, the service will be more concise and official.

Some Possible Drawbacks

The first major drawback to this program is that it's only available in the United States, Korea, and Japan. This service needs to be spread out throughout the Twitter world in order to really help the whole Twitter community, but this is something that the social network is striving for.

The other drawback is that you have to provide Twitter with your phone number. It's unclear whether or not organizations like WHO would also have your contact details (I'm assuming that Twitter would keep these safe), but that might also be a privacy concern - especially since Twitter has been hacked into on more than one occasion.

Lastly, more organizations need to join in on this effort. Right now, the three that have signed up are great, but smaller organizations should get in on this project too (and they probably will!).

The Real Life Benefits

On the plus side, you can easily help those in need just by signing up for the new Twitter program. You can also report disasters, which is a really important aspect of this whole setup.

Sometimes, smaller disasters don't make the news, and that means that organizations like WHO might not be able to help. By letting these organizations know what's going on, you can gain the help needed for any disaster regardless of size or location.

While the system is really new (it was just unveiled today), it's a great idea - and one that I won't feel too cautious about joining. There are so many people in need of help right now that this Twitter effort is going to really be a godsend. What do you think?