Friday, May. 29, 2009

A New Way for the Government to Reach You

The commercial sector will not be the only part of the enterprise landscape that will be affected by Twitter. Large government agencies will quickly realize that Twitter may be one of the single best ways to communicate with the public and may even mandate that Twitter participate in some programs to distribute emergency notices to citizens quickly. There is some precedent to this with the old Emergency Broadcast System that was used to reach the public over radio and TV starting in 1963. Eventually, certain departments of the Federal Government will want to have broad access to Twitter users for sending out information about man-made and natural disasters. People would be asked to "follow" certain government agencies. In the case of a major hurricane, people in the affected region might have to follow @Katrina @Fema Hurricane. A portable device with GPS would allow Twitter to be used to send or receive messages by location. A person without food or water could send a tweet with the location sent by the GPS on the portable device.

This would add certain "911" aspects to Twitter that could be used for health alerts like following the spread of a major disease like swine flu: @swineflu. This could be done on a local or national basis: @nyscswineflu. The service could also be used regionally for programs to find children who have disappeared, a sort of Amber Alert via Twitter.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Watch TIME's video "Steven Chu on Energy and Intellectual Horsepower."

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