Twitter has been used as a source of breaking news, and as a way of creating the news, during the Arab Spring, natural disasters and protests such as Occupy Wall Street. It has even been used by one New Jersey Mayor to help shut-ins during a snowstorm.
Now, a new service calling itself Twitcident aims to leverage the power of the social networking service to help emergency services better perform their rescue duties during emergencies. If seems that during a fire, should their service work, passerby may actually end up helping, rather than being perceived as callous, when they tweet about a local fire, car wreck or other emergency.
According to Wired:
The social media service delivers updates about earthquakes, fires and other disasters practically in real-time, and now emergency first responders might soon have a tool that parses these tweets to help better navigate areas in the throes of chaos.
The developers of the service, researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, explain that their service can ” support emergency services” by filtering tweets related to specific emergencies and, using algorithms, filter the information into relevant categories.
Such a system could provide first responders with up to the minute updates regarding secondary fires, the number of wounded and other life saving tidbits.
Regular citizens could use this system to keep tabs on rioting or flooding and to steer clear of problem areas.
In a similar vein, the British government has announced that it plans on developing its own “disaster app.”