Twitter Alerts launched among police and emergency services in Ireland and UK

18 Nov 2013

Twitter has launched a new Twitter Alerts system that would enable police and emergency services to get critical information to the right people at the right time.

Some 57 new accounts have signed up for the programme, including the UK’s 47 police forces, An Garda Síochána, the London Fire Brigade, the Mayor of London’s office, the Foreign Office, CEOP and the Environment Agency.

From today, these organisations will now be able to highlight critical information to their Twitter followers by marking Tweets as alerts, which highlight a Tweet with an orange bell for added visibility.

Twitter users who sign up for an account’s Twitter Alerts will receive a notification directly to their phone via SMS. Users of Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android will also receive a push notification direct to their mobile.

Twitter Alerts were launched among organisations in the US, Japan and Korea last September and has been used by by international organisations to disseminate information during emergencies involving public safety, accessibility and bad weather.

For example, the US Senate Sergeant at Arms, responsible for security and safety at the U.S. Senate, sent out a Twitter alert when news of a runaway car and shooting broke and a “shelter in place” order was issued.

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Commander David Martin, in charge of emergency planning for the London Metropolitan Police Service, said:  “Getting fast and accurate information to the public in a major incident or terrorist attack really could make a life-saving difference.

“Using social networking sites, including Twitter, gives us additional ways to talk directly to the public. Twitter Alerts means that our messages will stand out when it most matters,” Martin said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years