We just had a small earthquake — initial magnitude of 4.5. It wasn’t a huge big deal but it did get my pulse up a bit, at least enough to be too awake to go to sleep at this point.
Back when I had my Twitter rant in March, the reason that compelled me to sign up for it was that it was an excellent way to communicate one-to-many about disasters in real time; specifically, earthquakes.
But Dave Winer is taking the Twitter functionality several steps further along this path with the implementation of Twittergrams and direct photo posts to Flickr. By adding that functionality to Flickr, it would be possible to use my cell phone to send a text message, a Twittergram, and a photo of any damage or newsworthy images directly to Flickr within seconds of something happening.
Now in this case, there wasn’t much to Twitter. I did put up a post and link to the seismic report, but that was about it. However, had it been worse — say, a Northridge-sized earthquake — I wouldn’t have been able to access the Internet via my laptop and DSL connection, most likely. However, my cell service would likely be working, so that I could at the very least, send an SMS to Twitter. Assuming that Dave opens up his Twitter photo functionality to all of us at some point, I could take cell photos of the damage and upload those immediately, and at some point maybe even video (or at least send video to YouTube with a link to Twitter).
All of a sudden, what seems like playtime becomes a serious, nearly vital way to communicate with the outside world in real time. What Dave is creating is a platform that would be incredibly functional and useful to emergency responders in the area as well as a way to get messages out to family and others about what’s happening “inside the zone”.
Tonight’s little shaker was just a dry run. There will be a day here in Southern California where we will really need this and when that day comes, I’m hoping Twitter has enough redundancy on their servers and locations that an earthquake won’t take them out along with us, because I think it will be a vital link in a time of emergency.
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