Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Twitter Could Stop the Next Great Fire of London

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, December 21 2012

Screengrab of the London Fire Brigade's official Twitter page

London emergency responders are piloting the world’s first Twitter-based fire reporting program, the city’s Fire Brigade announced earlier this week. While officials cautioned this is not a replacement for dialing 999 — that’s British English for 911 — Rita Dexter, the Deputy Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, explained that implementing social media-based emergency calls is simply looking forward:

"When it was first set up in 1935, people said that dialing 999 to report emergencies would never work. Today BT handles over 30 million emergency calls each year. It’s time to look at new ways for people to report emergencies quickly and efficiently and social media could provide the answer in the future.”

The Fire Brigade is already reporting incidents to the public on its official Twitter feed. The London initiative follows the FCC’s announcement earlier this month that several major U.S. mobile providers will be implementing text-to-911 services next year. Both agencies’ press releases emphasized the centrality of traditional emergency phone lines, but seemed to concede that, in today’s world, people may be more likely to talk with their thumbs than talk to an operator.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

monday >

Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

GO

More