It’s widely acknowledged by emergency preparedness officials that text alerts are an important part of their arsenal. As Twitter gains increasing adoption among both engaged citizens and government agencies, there is a simple outreach mechanism for ensuring that alerts are received broadly: SMS signups for Twitter alerts from official emergency accounts.
While warning claxons, radio alerts and other systems that don’t rely on cellular networks are the backbone of civic emergency programs, all cities that use Twitter in their preparedness toolkit should be actively encouraging the public to sign up for alerts via text on their cell phones. For example, in San Francisco, to receive SMS alerts by cell from the Department of Emergency Management, Twitter users simply need to text “follow SF_Emergency” to 40404. This official account sends out very few tweets (just 12 in the month of October), but when it does update, it’s important information such as road closure updates, details on emergency preparedness drills or details on gas leaks and other emergencies.
To find out about your local emergency alerts, you can check out the resources on GovLive, and to sign up for Twitter SMS alerts in the U.S. text “follow” and the account name without the @ symbol to 40404.