Thirteen Australian public safety agencies, local government and disaster services have signed up to the Twitter Alerts programme.
Twitter Australia announced the launch of Twitter Alerts in Australia on Tuesday 17 December, together with the list of participating public institutions and their Twitter handles:
The NSW Rural Fire Service (@NSWRFS)
NSW Police (@nswpolice)
Victorian Police (@VictoriaPolice)
Queensland Police (@QPSmedia)
Western Australia Police (@WA_Police)
South Australian Police (@SAPoliceNews)
Australian Government’s travel advisory (@smartraveller)
The Department of Health (@healthgovau)
Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW)
Country Fire Service South Australia (@CFSAlerts)
The City of Brisbane (@brisbanecityqld)
The City of Sydney (@CityofSydney)
The Australian Red Cross (@RedCrossAU)
These 13 organisations are already using Twitter as a channel to reach citizens. Twitter Alerts is a new feature that allow them to share critical information during emergencies, natural disasters or when other communications services are down.
When the organisation mark a tweet as an emergency tweet, it will be highlighted using an orange bell.
Citizens who sign up for alerts from the organisation can also choose to have these emergency tweets sent to them directly through SMS or a push notification.
According to New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers, Twitter is a useful tool to push out information and warnings during major bushfire emergencies. It also acts as an intelligence gathering tool that can help the firefighting effort.
Rogers cited the example of the October bushfires that accounted over 20 million impressions and 18,300 retweets of the fire services’ messages. He added that there was a record of 470 million impressions of the hashtag #nswfires on Twitter.
“We have successfully used Twitter in previous crisis situations, including the January 2011 floods and more recent 2013 Australia Day storms, and this new feature complements our existing social media use and will help us engage with and keep our residents informed during emergencies,” said Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.