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Twitter LA Fires

Some people are goofy about police/fire scanners. I never have been, but I’m intrigued by LA Fire Department’s “push” of LA fire updates to its Google group subscribers (or anyone else).  You can get LAFD’s updates by your channel of choice: RSS feed, email, or Twitter (click “follow” LAFD on Twitter, and you’re in). For its part, LAFD pushes its “tweets” via Twittermail – using a web app to send its information to Twitter, which turns around and pushes it to LAFD’s Twitter “followers.”

So, this is important for a couple of reasons. First, LAFD looks like it’s among the only big city public safety agencies making these notifications via Twitter. It’s pathbreaking. Second, 311 and 911 systems are all crunched and looking for ways to divert inbound traffic: Twitter notifications reverse the flow and push updates without using operators.  Third, it’s a pathway — albeit for emergency notification — for government-citizen communication.   But build a channel, and they will come.  Gov Schwartzenegger of CA is already tweeting his “followers” with a flurry of “watch me” updates. He won’t be lonely here for long  – and if you install Twitter as a Facebook application, your own Tweets will keep your Facebook friends company long into the night.

Looks like we’re in the early stages of uptake and adoption, with some mix of goofy kid stuff and industrial-strength applications ricochetting. No one is telling anyone to do it, but in LAFD’s case there’s a bottom-up business driver, it’s low cost,  there’s an enabler, and there’s no org culture blocking the way. That sounds ripe for fast uptake and adoption.

This doesn’t answer the question that Tom Davenport has raised whether this stuff will “transform” government. But emergency notifications, like political campaigns, are important “canaries in a cage” vectors for new-fangled techno entering government. We’re sure to see political leaders and agency heads quickly push this stuff further, faster and more  broadly.

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One response to “Twitter LA Fires”

  1. Mr. Tumin,

    Thank you for the kind mention of LAFD’s connective technologies. We seek to help people lead safer, healthier and more productive lives by providing timely and accurate information in parallel formats that the community (from elected leaders to the man on the street) will find familiar, easy to act upon and share with others.

    Please let us know when your travel may bring you to Southern California. There is plenty of room at our firehouse kitchen table, and always a warm cup of coffee with your name on it.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department