Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

Municipal Emergency Textmobbing
Emily Gertz, 2 Dec 04

Washington, D.C. has implemented DC Text Alert to transmit information to the public during a major emergency. "In the event of an emergency, such as a terrorist attack or severe weather incident, DCEMA will send important alerts, updates and instructions right to your cell phone or mobile device using your device's text message (SMS) feature, and/or to your e-mail account(s)."

The pragmatic language is refreshing.

I'm unconvinced that it would be useful to rely on information from a single municipal agency that is probably dealing with a lot of stuff in the middle of a major crisis (especially given that such agencies might be fairly attractive targets to terrorists). But augment it with "unofficial" services like txtmob, and this could be a helpful and reassuring way for the community to take care of itself "the next time." I've taken to carrying a small radio around in my bag since 9/11, and it proved pretty handy on the day the Blackout of 2003 started, switching stations to get a fuller picture of what was going on around New York City and the region.

(thanks, michaelag)

Bookmark and Share


Comments

New York City's Office of Emergency management has something similar:


It offers email alerts, not true SMS messages to a cellphone. But you can sign up for the service using the email address of your phone, and get messages that way.

If you don't know the email address for your phone, you can use @teleflip.com, and the messages will get to you.


Posted by: Patrick Di Justo on 3 Dec 04

New York City's Office of Emergency management has something similar:
http://www.nyc.gov/oemnews

It offers email alerts, not true SMS messages to a cellphone. But you can sign up for the service using the email address of your phone, and get messages that way.

If you don't know the email address for your phone, you can use [phonenumber]@teleflip.com, and the messages will get to you.


Posted by: Patrick Di Justo on 3 Dec 04

Thanks, Pat. I was digging around last night--figured NYC had to have something like this--but didn't find it before I posted.

After observing the txtmob in action during the RNC, how effective do you think these systems could be during a disaster?

(I have this vision of getting a text message along the informational lines of the typical subway announcement: "Due to an earlier incident, trains--*crackle* *splrk* *fzzzckk*--delays. Please be patient, and thank you for riding the MTA.")



Posted by: Emily on 3 Dec 04

I see txtmob being of limited (if any) use in an emergency. First, remember on September 11 2001 all the cell phone networks either collapsed with the WTC towers or were overloaded throughout the morning. Second, my experience at the RNC protests showed that an individual waving a cell phone, saying "I just got a message that says such-and-such" is hardly ever listened to.

Maybe if a critical mass of people sign up for the service, and if they all get the same message, at the same time, and if they all corroborate each other, then maybe they might be able to get the rest of the crowd to go along. It doesn't mean they'll be correct, just that they'll be able to move the crowd.


Posted by: Patrick Di Justo on 3 Dec 04

I will hang on to my little radio.


Posted by: Emily Gertz on 4 Dec 04

I've been signed up for the DC service for the last few days. I have been notified twice.

The first time was the resolution of a chemical scare at Pentagon metro -- it said something along the lines of "Pentagon metro reopened." When I looked into it on Google news, it turned out that some cleaning stuff had set off a detector.

Today I got a weather warning about high winds.

Had I been planning to pass through Pentagon station I suppose it could have saved me time, but I'm surprised they only informed me about the resolution and not the onset of the problem.

So altogether, not totally useless, but not really, uh, world changing. :)


Posted by: Patrick on 8 Dec 04

People might also be interested in www.stephensonstrategies.com where David Stephenson, author of a PDA program on emergency response info, blogs on homeland security and liberalsagainstterrorism.com, a blog and associated wiki for leftie anti-terra.

My favorite anti-terra idea these days comes from
_Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill_ by Jessica Stern (NY: HarperCollins, 2003) page 230:

"Asked about the biggest threat to their groups' survival, a militant says that 'free secular education for all' leading to an "increase in the literacy rate" is the gravest threat to the survival of the jihadi groups in Pakistan."

So how about a world-wide literacy campaign using all media - radio, TV, Net and Web, as well as hard copy and word of mouth? Cut the ground from under the terrorist recruiters.



Posted by: gmoke on 8 Dec 04

Definitely--that's the real worldchanging. Thanks for the link.

It's interesting to track the evolution of the tech from subcult (flashmobbed street theatre) to mainstream (municipal emergency alert theatre). And this is just in the U.S., where, as I understand it, we tend to be behind the curve on creativity with consumer telecommunications?

But I would never suggest that this is actually solving the root cause. Apparently, it's not even doing much for the symptom.


Posted by: Emily Gertz on 9 Dec 04

Boston recently announced a limited service - it will send out e-mail to alert residents that it's about to snow. It's called "Know Snow." Which seems kinda silly - it's not like the merest possibility of a single flake falling anywhere east of the Hudson doesn't already send every weather forecaster in the area into paroxysms of joy and lead to "special report" interruptions or crawls on every single TV show, so I'm thinking we don't really need the city to tell us it's going to snow.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/snow/


Posted by: adamg on 9 Dec 04



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg