A New Way to Get Alerts from Government Agencies

November 9, 2013
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Just a few years ago, the general public relied on live television to provide emergency information from government agencies. Today, social media immediately delivers that information in real time, helping to save lives in emergency situations.

Just a few years ago, the general public relied on live television to provide emergency information from government agencies. Today, social media immediately delivers that information in real time, helping to save lives in emergency situations.

emergency alerts on mobile phoneBut with social media, everyone has a voice, and not all the information you read is factual and true. That has recently changed as Twitter recently announced the launch of Twitter Alerts, a new feature that gives users important and accurate information from select credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communication services aren’t accessible.

The tweets, which publish during a crisis or emergency, contain up-to-date information relevant to an unfolding event, such as public safety warnings and evacuation instructions. Users receive emergency Twitter Alerts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Twitter, users who sign up for the alerts will receive a notification directly to their phone whenever that account marks a Tweet as an alert. Notifications are delivered via SMS, and if you use Twitter for iPhone 5.1 or higher or Twitter for Android 4.1.6, you’ll also receive a push notification. Alerts also appear differently on your home timeline from regular Tweets; they are indicated with an orange bell.

After disasters like Superstorm Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing, this new potential lifeline can become critical during dangerous situations.

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To subscribe to these notifications, go to the Alerts setup page for the organization you wish to receive alerts from (e.g., twitter.com/fema/alerts). Additionally, if an organization is part of the program it will notify the user when visiting their Twitter page on the web.