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Gardaí to use Twitter for major emergency alerts

An Garda Síochána has become the first Irish organisation to sign up for Twitter Alerts which are sent to users during emergencies or natural disasters.

Image: @GardaTraffic via Twitter

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA has become the first Irish organisation to sign up to Twitter’s emergency alert system to let followers know about major incidents.

Twitter announced yesterday that it has activated Twitter Alerts in the UK and Ireland with 57 accounts in total signing up for the service, the vast majority of which are police forces across Britain.

Twitter Alerts, which launched in the US, Japan and South Korea in September, gives users crucial information from state and other agencies during emergencies or natural disasters when communication lines may be down.

Once the participating Twitter accounts mark any of their tweets with as an alert – using the hashtag #alert – the tweet is highlighted with an orange bell to appear more visible to followers.

Twitter users who sign up to receive Twitter Alerts from an account will receive a notification directly to their phone via text message. Users of the Twitter iPhone or Android apps will also receive a push notification straight to their phone.

imageA US example of how an alert would appear in text message and with a push notification (Image: Twitter)

“All of the organisations participating in today’s launch already use Twitter as a tool to communicate important information to their followers,” said Steve Summers of Twitter in a blog post. “The added functionality of Twitter Alerts will help them reach their followers with important and accurate information during emergencies, natural disasters or when other communication services aren’t accessible”.

Irish users can subscribe to the Garda Twitter alerts by going to www.twitter.com/GardaTraffic/alerts.

An Garda Síochána has been expanding the use of its Twitter accounts in recent months.

The Garda traffic and major events account (@GardaTraffic) now has more than 40,000 followers while the newer Garda information account (@gardainfo) has almost 8,000.

The most recent edition of Garda Review – the force magazine – said that the Twitter feeds have begun to report live from most major events. The Garda Press Office also asks gardaí on the beat to mail photos directly from road traffic collisions and other events which can then be tweeted to show users what gardaí are working on on a daily basis.

Read: “I’ve never worn heels while driving” and other things we learned from the Garda Twitter Q&A >

Read: “Vehicle” or “Veh-icle”? Garda Twitter account tackles the big questions >

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