Twitter launches emergency alerts

TwitteralertsFema screenshotWe are excited to share the news that Twitter has launched “Twitter Alerts” to enable official agencies to issue emergency alerts during times of crisis.

Users who sign up for an agency’s Twitter alerts will receive emergency messages directly to their mobile phone via a text message, push notification or highlighted Tweet.

The ability to issue Twitter Alerts via this service is available free to local, national and international institutions that provide critical information to the general public such as:

  • Law enforcement and public safety agencies
  • Emergency management agencies
  • City and municipal governments as well as their agencies and representatives
  • County and regional agencies, providing services to cities and municipalities
  • And select state, federal and national agencies and NGOs.

Agencies need to first apply (and update their security) and once approved they will then have the Alerts feature displayed on their Twitter profile which followers can click to sign up as indicated below:


Agencies will also receive a custom url to promote to their constituents to signup eg This is critical as followers will not automatically receive Twitter Alerts – they must sign up for the service. The agency will have the Alert function available to them when they are signed in to Twitter, which they can then activate in times of emergency for specific tweets. The service also operates from mobile devices.

So far participating agencies have signed up from the United States, Japan and Korea. Global nonprofits include the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and World Health Organization.

We have added this information to the Emergency 2.0 Wiki in our Tips for the Public and also our Guidelines for Emergency Agencies, Government, Community Agencies, Schools and Business section on Establishing Social Media Channels.

We  also plan to add the participating agencies to our Emergency 2.0 Wiki global directory and are calling for volunteers to help add the content and keep it updated. If you are interested in helping please contact us.

Please help spread the word about Twitter Alerts to accelerate global takeup of this vital lifesaving service.

Many thanks,

Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (Voluntary)

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Imagine a world of resilient communities empowered to use social media in disasters #2030NOW

Image courtesy Emergency 2.0 Australia Project

Image courtesy Emergency 2.0 Australia Project

Right now a global conversation is taking place online via #2030NOW about what kind of world we want in 2030.

Instigated by the Social Good Summit (22-24 September) in New York, with meetups around the globe, leading experts, advocates and innovators are sharing their ideas on how social media and technology can address some of the world’s biggest challenges.

SocialGoodSummit_Logo_2013_bWe’re adding our voice to the discussion, sharing ideas on how we can all help build resilient communities empowered to use social media in disasters. As well as taking part in the Twitter conversation, we’ll also be highlighting our article published on Plus Social Good, a community linked to the Summit. Please see the excerpt below:

“Imagine a world where during a disaster everyone knows how to use social media to save their own lives and the lives of others.

Where the whole of the community: emergency services, government, NGOs, community groups, business, media and citizens use social media to inform, share and collaborate to face disaster.

Where emergency services utilise social media to instantly broadcast emergency warnings to the public. Where citizens have emergency apps on their mobile devices providing them with live alerts, information on how to prepare for disasters and maps of evacuation shelters. And, which empowers them to share disaster information from the scene using social media.

Where emergency services actively crowdsource localised information from citizens? Where emergency information, road closures, live photos and video are posted on crowdmaps by the whole of community.

Where digital volunteers locally and across the globe work around the clock to help emergency services monitor social media and respond in real time to calls for help.

Where in the recovery phase of a disaster, social media, mobile apps and crowdmaps are used to empower communities to directly help one another by donating and accessing relief supplies, accommodation and volunteer help.

We, the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community, believe this vision of resilient communities, empowered to use social media in disasters is possible and are actively working around the world to make this a reality. To help facilitate this, we created the Wiki, a world first free global resource for using social media in emergencies.” To read more please see Plus Social Good.

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki is looking forward to joining the #2030NOW discussion and sharing ideas on how we can all help build resilient communities empowered to use social media in disasters. We encourage you to add your voice!


Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (voluntary)

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How a ‘whole of community’ approach to using social media in times of crisis increases its effectiveness

ncs_socialmedia_program_thumbnailv02Last week we presented at a national public policy forum on how to improve the use of social media in times of crisis in Australia. Social Media in Times of Crisis brought together emergency management, government, business, research, political, policy and media leaders to share ideas in a bid to shape public policy on this important issue.

Hosted by public policy think tank Eidos Institute, in partnership with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), at the State Library in Brisbane, the conference showcased research from QUT and presentations from the Queensland Police Service Media Unit and the Department of Community Safety. Valuable ideas were shared and at once point the conference hashtag #SMTC13 even became a trending topic.

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki presentation outlined how proactively involving the ‘whole of community’: government, business, NGOs, schools, hospitals, community groups, media and the public, in using social media in times of crisis can greatly increase its effectiveness.

We provided a local, national and global perspective on how a whole of community approach has been successfully applied, showcasing New York City’s social media response to Hurricane Sandy and drawing on examples from this year’s Queensland floods and Victoria bushfires.

We demonstrated how engaging with the community as ‘partners’ in the emergency response, utilising social media for two way communication, amplification, collaboration and integration can powerfully assist communities to better prepare for, respond to and recover from disaster.

Our key recommendations for a ‘whole of community’ approach to using social media in times of crisis were:

  1. Provide tools and the platforms to help the public help themselves, each other and emergency services and official agencies eg emergency apps, crowdmaps
  2. Educate the public on how to use social media to help themselves, each other and emergency services
  3. Engage in two way communication – ask the public to help
  4. Engage digital volunteers


We would like to hear your thoughts on our presentation and welcome your comments and input.  We look forward to participating in the ongoing public policy discussion on this critical topic and to sharing the link to the conference report with you in the near future.


Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (voluntary)

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Is your organisation Emergency 2.0 Resilient? #BCAW2013

Image courtesy Emergency 2.0 Australia Project

Image courtesy Emergency 2.0 Australia Project

In Business Continuity Awareness Week #BCAW2013, in this era of social media, it is important to ask the question “Is your organisation Emergency 2.0 Resilient?” Do you know how to use social media to help your organisation, employees and stakeholders prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies?

We invite you to consider this scenario and ask yourself “is this how my organisation would respond?”

A major emergency or disaster has struck your community and there is widespread damage… roads are cut and communications infrastructure is impacted with congested telephone lines and mobile networks and key emergency websites crashing due to load.

Flood evacuation tweet (@QPS Media)

Flood evacuation tweet (@QPS Media)

An ‘emergency 2.0 resilient’ organisation will respond by deploying its business continuity plan which has social media integrated throughout to ensure an ongoing flow of information and two way communication with employees, customers, suppliers, emergency agencies, the media and other key stakeholders.

Hurricane Sandy Google Crisis Response Map

Hurricane Sandy Google Crisis Response Map

Employees immediately access social media sites at work to obtain real-time emergency information and online maps to enable them to plan a safe route home, to pick up the kids from school or to head to evacuation centres. Once in a safe place, they make contact and stay in touch via the organisation’s internal social media network (eg Yammer).

monitoring the emergencySenior Management, business continuity and communications teams monitor the emergency in real time via emergency services updates on Twitter and Facebook (including live press conferences via Livestream). They also use social media aggregator tools such as Trendsmap to zero-in on tweets in specific impacted locations.

Employees from branches in other impacted areas are taking photos and videos of the damage to the offices on their mobile devices and posting it on the internal social enterprise network to share with the organisation.

Yammer screenshot

Yammer feed

A temporary remote workforce for business critical functions is established using phone, text, social media and the organisation’s internal social network. Staff are accessing Yammer messages via the app on their mobile phones. Virtual meetings are conducted with key staff who can’t get to work using social media channels. They collaborate virtually online using realtime documents such as Google word documents, spreadsheets and maps.

Westpac Bank Facebook page listing branches affected by Queensland floods

Westpac Bank Facebook page listing branches affected by Queensland floods

Customers, suppliers and other stakeholders including the media are kept informed and engaged via regular updates on the organisation’s social network sites as well as the website which incorporates the social media feeds on the home page.Senior Management and the communications team are also monitoring what is being said to the organisation on social networks and are quickly responding to frequently asked questions. They are also monitoring what is being said about the organisation and any rumours or misinformation is quickly corrected and quashed via social media channels.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Crowdmap

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Crowdmap

The organisation supports its local community to recover by posting offers to donate goods and services on online community crowdmaps and billboards.

It also utilises its social media channels to rally its stakeholders to also help.

We could go on with this scenario, but assume you’ve got the picture. Is this how your organisation would respond in a major emergency? Is your organisation emergency 2.0 resilient?

Emergency 2.0 Wiki main page

Emergency 2.0 Wiki main page

If you aren’t, the good news is that you can be! The Emergency 2.0 Wiki, in collaboration with our alliance partner the Business Continuity Institute of Australasia have developed tips and guidelines on the Wiki to help your organisation to use social media in each stage of an emergency:

Continuity Forum Presentation

Continuity Forum Presentation

Free Webinars coming soon on YouTube…

In addition to the Wiki guidelines, we aim to create and post webinars on YouTube to be freely available to all. As a volunteer driven not for profit charity we need funding to enable us to do this, so if you have ideas on how we could access funding/sponsorship for this vital initiative please contact us.

Join the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community

To keep up to date on the latest trends and technological developments in using social media for business continuity and resilience, you are welcome to join the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community by following us on Twitter @emergency20wiki and we also invite you to join the Emergency 2.0 Wiki LinkedIn Group.  We’d also love you to share your feedback, news, tips and ideas.

We can’t stop disasters from happening, but together we can make our organisations Emergency 2.0 Resilient!

Stay safe,

Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (voluntary)