The wildfires sweeping across parts of California have forced a million to flee their homes, left 400,000 acres of land a charred ruin and reduced some 1,300 homes to rubble.
So imagine the comfort that is being provided by three tireless Twitter feeds during this entire tragedy.
That’s right, Twitter is playing a big part this time round, providing updates and warnings for the citizens aware of it. KPBS News and the LA Times both have Twitter feeds, providing dozens of updates for residents.
From my writing of this article, KPBS 21 minutes ago alerted people that “The Encinitas Community Center is still open, accepting people and their pets” and then 13 minutes ago “Anyone evacuating Julian can go to Borrego High School 2281 Diegueno Dr, Borrego Springs.”
For those of us who have been passionate early adopters of Twitter, this is the proof in the proverbial pudding.
For many people in the midst of this tragedy, normal updates are
simply not available. And for a long time those giving the updates have
known this. They’ve relied on radio stations set apart for disasters to
get word out. But in a day and age where radio is fast becoming the old
relic medium, what do they have?
Officials have seen this as a problem, and have already begun implementing test scenarios to reach a solution. Purdue University in Indiana and St. John’s University in New York both recently ran tests of mass-SMS-notification throughout their campuses. The aim was to provide students evacuation orders on a medium that, in all reality, everyone has these days.
With Twitter’s SMS notification abilities, the next step was logical.
Nate Ritter, a self confessed “successful entrepreneur and web chef
of 10+ years” has also been covering the San Diego fires. Ritter has so
far twittered some 430 updates for residents of the area, starting each
post with #sandiegofire so that people can use some of the new Twitter
functionality to follow the fires.
Twitter only just implemented the ability to track keywords in Twitter updates across the board. All one would have to do is send an SMS in to follow a certain keyword. Nate Ritter has provided that keyword, #sandiegofire.
All in all, it is pretty obvious that Twitter is proving itself invaluable right now.
Posted by Josh Hill.