SocialGov

Agencies to push out emergency news with Twitter Alerts

tornado

Twitter Alerts allow agencies to post special bulletins of urgent news. (Stock image)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and a handful of other federal agencies are participating in a new program from Twitter that allows users of the social network to receive push notifications in breaking emergencies.

The service, called Twitter Alerts, allows select organizations to designate Twitter posts as alerts, which will be tagged with an orange bell and delivered to users via text message or a home screen alert on a smartphone. The program launched Sept. 25 with more than 100 participating federal, state and local agencies and nongovernmental organizations. In addition to FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State Department, the National Parks Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Land Management are participating.

Alerts are mapped to individual Twitter accounts. For example, followers of the @TravelGov account at the State Department can receive bulletins important to international travelers. FEMA is using the alerts on its main account, its Spanish-language account, each of its 10 regional Twitter feeds and the @ReadyGov account.

Alerts can be used to notify users of imminent dangers or public safety hazards, provide evacuation directions, share information on transit and utility outages, as well as for "crowd and misinformation management," according to Twitter's guidelines. Twitter suggests a few appropriate circumstances for tweeting an alert, including severe weather or a natural disaster, a biological incident, chemical or nuclear accident, explosion, a terrorist incident, severe transportation disruptions, a significant cyber incident, threats to the food supply or life-threatening  criminal activity .

"Social media has revolutionized communication during disasters," said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. "Today we have a two-way street -- residents are informed about hazards in real time and emergency managers receive immediate feedback on the consequences of a disaster. Twitter Alerts provide an opportunity to get information directly from trusted sources."

Users who want to receive alerts have to opt-in to the alert service for each qualified account they follow.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


Featured

  • Management
    people standing on keyboard (Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com)

    OPM-GSA merger plan detailed in legislative proposal

    The White House is proposing legislation for a dramatic overhaul of human resources inside government and wants $50 million to execute the plan.

  • Cloud
    cloud applications (chanpipat/Shutterstock.com)

    GSA plans civilian DEOS counterpart

    GSA is developing a cloud email and enterprise services contract inspired by the single-source vehicle the Department of Defense devised for back-office software.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/Shutterstock.com)

    DOD looks to unify software spending for 2020

    Defense Department acquisition head, Ellen Lord, hopes to simplify software buying and improve business systems following the release of the Defense Innovation Board's final software acquisition study.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.