Twitter has launched a new emergency alert system called 'Twitter Alerts'. Users who sign up for the system will receive emails and SMS text messages from the government and aid agencies that have signed up with the program.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, WHO and Tokyo's Disaster Prevention service are among those participating in the emergency alert service by Twitter. To subscribe to the alerts, users can visit the alert page of an organization at Twitter.com/[account]/alerts/. Users can check the profile page of the enrolled agencies and just sign up.
Twitter is also giving the users an opt-in procedure, where users can choose the local organizations that the want to subscribe to and can even turn off the alerts from a specific group at any time. Twitter is limiting the number of texts and push notifications approved organizations can post as many normal tweets as they want.
Twitter had earlier helped during Hurricane Sandy, where users had reported the storm's progress and sought help on the mobile network. Twitter added that a similar lifeline service helped in the rescue efforts in Japan after the 2011 tsunami. The Emergency Alert program will be initially launched in the United States, Japan and Korea and will be later extended to other countries.
Craig Fugate, the FEMA administrator, stated that the service offers cutting edge technology in disaster management in the age of smartphones:
"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," Fugate said in a statement.