Leading-edge use of social software.
While Twitter made some people very passionate about it and left others in cold indifference, questioning its usefulness and even survival on the market, these last days Twitter proved itself worthy of the term “social web service.” In one of his recent posts, David Stephenson, homeland security, e-government, and crisis management strategist and theorist, pleads as defense attorney for Twitter’s social strengths by presenting two illustrative cases, as exhibits before a virtual jury: LA Fire Department 2.0 and Red Cross 2.0 in Birmingham, AL.
When it comes to strategic and adaptive ingenuity, California was always to stand as a pioneer, setting foot for one step ahead, often visionary and sometimes even going against the Washington main current in terms of civil, social, green policies and not only. LA Fire Department is clearly raised in the same spirit, as the people working there quickly absorbed the Web 2.0 tools into their activity to make it more effective and people caring. Along the blog, LAFD_ALERT service, Flickr Photo Gallery, YouTube Channel, and the podcasts and show notes at BlogTalkRadio.com, the LA Fire Department inserted Twitter into its online panoply of citizen services and set its designation as a reliable tool for emergency response in ordinary or crisis situations. Brian Humphrey and Ron Myers from LAFD said that the attributes the Web 2.0 tools possess — “desirable, beneficial, justifiable and sustainable” — motivated their choice. Twitter has the greatest success so far with 190 followers, perhaps, among other reasons, due to its simplicity and mobility of use, given the fact that “not everyone who is in need of information in times of distress will be sitting in front of a computer,” but will most probably have a cell phone at hand.
Following the same pattern, Red Cross Regional Director of Communications and Government Relations Ike Piggott is also using Twitter, having registered two channels: redcross and safeandwell. Redcross will be a test channel that will serve to spread information during a mass evacuation: evacuees will text ‘FOLLOW REDCROSS’ to 40404, and sign up to get updates about where the shelters are, distribution sites, and other contact info. Safeandwell is going to be more for incoming communication, meaning that people who text ‘FOLLOW SAFEANDWELL’ to 40404 will automatically be followed back, thus being able send their private information as a Direct Message to the American Red Cross database.
You may remember that I blogged about the possibility that Twitter might play a substantive role in emergency response because of its ability to share location-based, real-time information among social networks.
Enough of that condescending tone, Stephenson: let’s change that to Twitter is playing a substantive role in emergency response.