How Twitter Alerts Improve Emergency Notifications

How Twitter Alerts Improve Emergency Notifications

Twitter has rolled out its Alerts emergency notification service in Australia, with more than a dozen fire services, various state police and community organisations signing up. How does a “Twitter alert” differ from a regular tweet from one of those organisations, and how might that help during a bushfire or other natural disaster?

Alerts are distinguished from standard messages by displaying a large orange bell next to the message. If you have a mobile number associated with your account, you’ll also receive a text message, and if you use the official Twitter apps for iOS or Android, you’ll receive a push notification. Helpfully, You can choose to sign up purely for alerts from an account, rather than seeing every message from it.

Organisations choose when to designate a message as an alert; typically, that will be for crucial, time-sensitive information (such as a warning of a fire in an area). While many Australian states already have systems to send text messages to all phones in an area during a bushfire crisis, it never hurts to have additional channels open.

These are the services currently signed up, with links to their alerts sign-up pages:


  • I’d rather a state-sponsored RSS platform/some other sort of system with strict SLAs over Twitter — these being potentially life-critical notifications, in the form of the rural fire service. At least they still SMS.

    Social networks just don’t strike me as the right platform for this.

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