As the nation deals with a health emergency, Microsoft has just released Vine, a new social networking application that could be very helpful to the public — providing information and locating friends & family — during emergencies. According to Seattle’s Tech Flash, Vine aims to:
connect Facebook, Twitter, text messages, traditional phone calls, email and other forms of communication into a system for sending and receiving urgent information during natural disasters. It could also come in handy during more mundane emergencies — such as making sure someone is picking up the kids from school. In the case of an earthquake, for example, a Vine user could send a single alert to a preset list of emergency contacts, who would receive the message in whatever form they chose — such as text or email — and send replies to the same list from whatever tool they were using. The Vine system could also be used for routine events, such as a youth sports coach who needs to alert players and parents that a game has been rained out. In addition, Vine lets people post and receive reports, such as news items and public-safety alerts, from their neighborhoods.
For more information, there is a video demo and a fact sheet on the site. According to the fact sheet: “Over time, the network will provide advanced capabilities to help individuals, communities and organizations work together to fundamentally improve quality of life and be better prepared for any disaster. Grounded in the tools people use today, Microsoft is working to deliver a new generation of software and services that will enable society to self-organize effectively toward a broad range of goals. We call this concept ’societal networking.’”
Microsoft will be relying initially on users to help develop the site. According to the company, “The beta will be available for a limited number of people to download at no cost. It will be a beta service, which means we welcome your feedback and ideas to help make it great. If you are interested in trying the service and contributing feedback, reserve your invitation at www.vine.net.” I will report back when I have had a chance to test it.