In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Twitter To The Rescue

July 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

Earlier this year, James Karl Buck, a graduate student arrested in Egypt while documenting local riots, sent out a one word Twitter message — “Arrested” — just before he was taken in custody by Egyptian police. As a result of the message, members of Buck’s Twitter network were able to get the word out, mobilize and then create enough outside pressure on the Egyptian government to release him.

Since then, Buck has been working to get his translator Mohammed Maree freed from the prison. And, Robin Parker of Cross Blog just told me that Buck is also trying to create a Twitter network for emergencies.

According to a story by  the Industry Standard ’s Chris Tompkins:

[Buck] hopes to mobilize a Twitter-based network to respond to mobile messages sent from users in difficult situations or humanitarian crises. Twitter is a “microblogging” platform that lets a registered user send SMS and short Web messages to others who are signed up to receive updates from that user.

Buck hopes to create an SMS messaging group which allows a user in a situation like he experienced in Egypt to tweet a humanitarian group watching the specific region where the incident is occurring. Concerned parties could choose to help, or just pass on word to those who might be able to provide it.  


James Karl Buck

Buck recently met with Twitter management to discuss his idea. (Buck’s Twitter page can be found here). In addition to Buck’s example, Twitter’s value as a communications tool in emergencies was underscored after the Chinese earthquake earlier this year.
To me, a key take away from Buck’s story is not only the value of social networking media like Twitter in emergencies, but that you — and your friends and your family – have to be networked in the system before the emergency, so you communicate and be communicated to when something happens. And, as importantly, you also need to the capability to use the mobile technology — which until yesterday I did not.
 I have been on Twitter for several months and periodically send out ’tweets’ (or messages) from my laptop  which are seen by my ’followers’ (people who sign up to get messages from me). And I in turn receive the messages of those I am ‘following’. (Go to my Twitter page if you are curious to see what I am talking about and are interested in participating.)

In May, during the second Manhattan crane collapse, I tried to send a Twitter message to someone alerting him my CERT team was being deployed. But I could not do so because my new Blackberry indicated a Java script error.  

Yesterday, I went to the retailer where I recently bought my Blackberry. A salesperson adjusted the device to enable the Java script to run. So, now if something happens or I just want to communicate with others, I can get a ‘tweet” out.

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Tags: Preparedness 2.0 · Preparedness Tips

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