London fire department may offer option to tweet emergencies instead of just calling

tweeting emergencies london fireHow about this – you’re walking down the street and you see a house on fire. Your instinct would be to call the fire department, right? If it was an option, would you tweet the emergency services instead? When time is of the essence, it’s more than likely you’d opt to call rather than waste time fiddling about with a keyboard as you try to compose a tweet with all the details (within 140 characters, naturally).

London’s fire service, however, has said it’s looking into the possibility of allowing people to tweet emergencies. At the present time it makes a point of telling Twitter users not to tweet emergencies to its @LondonFire Twitter account as it’s not constantly monitored. But it is coming to realize that with the proliferation of mobile devices and social media sites, it may make sense to offer the public other options when it comes to reporting an emergency.

“With over a billion people now using Facebook and half a billion using Twitter, it’s quite clear that social media is here to stay,” Rita Dexter, deputy commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, told the BBC this week. “The London Fire Brigade is the biggest fire service in the country and we think it’s important to look into ways to improve how we communicate with the public and how they can get in touch with us.”

The BBC reports that London’s fire service has already been making use of social media to get information about developing situations. For example, at a large fire in the UK capital earlier this year, the fire department called on its Twitter followers in the vicinity to send photos and descriptions of the scene. The information was then assessed back at base, allowing fire chiefs to better assess the situation and act accordingly.

Canada

But London’s fire department isn’t the only one looking at how social media could be used for reporting emergencies. A CTV report this week said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is currently asking Canadian emergency responders for suggestions on how to improve the 911 service using new technology.

“Currently, if you want 911 services, you have to phone,” said Lance Valcour, executive director of the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group. “But in the future it will be video to 911, photographs to 911, potentially social media to 911.”

The report noted that text messaging to 911 is currently being tested for the hearing and voice impaired.

The London Fire Brigade’s Rita Dexter believes social media could be the answer as it looks at new ways for people to report emergencies “quickly and efficiently,” though many will claim there’s nothing quicker than the current method of simply calling. However, using Twitter to monitor a developing emergency situation makes perfect sense with so many users able to tweet valuable information direct from the location and is something that many emergency services already do.

[Image: Nando Machado / Shutterstock]

Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Gaming

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Movies & TV

Ice meets fire in HBO's latest 'Game of Thrones' season 8 teaser

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.
Mobile

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.