London Fire Brigade Wants to Tweet With You
The Deputy Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Rita Dexter thinks there is a Tweet in your future if you need help. Quoting that there are a billion people worldwide using Facebook and a half-billion connected to Twitter, she wants to look at ways to introduce them to the emergency dispatch system.
"When it was first set up in 1935, people said that dialling 999 to report emergencies would never work. Today BT handles over 30 million emergency calls each year," she said. "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."
In a news release issued yesterday, the LFB went on to say:
The Brigade would be the first emergency service in the UK to look into how apps, social media and micro-blogging sites, like Twitter, could be used by the public to report emergencies. It said it aims to work with the Government and other blue light services, such as the Met Police and London Ambulance Service, to establish whether the idea could become a reality and the extent to which social media might be used to report emergencies.
Earlier this year a report from Ofcom suggested that:
- For the first time text-based communications are surpassing traditional phone calls or meeting face to face as the most frequent ways of keeping in touch for UK adults.
- Traditional forms of communication are declining in popularity, with the overall time people spend talking on the phone falling by five per cent in 2011.
- One in five adults in the UK now uses a smart phone.
TNW News writes further:
Reporting incidents using short messaging services appears to be a plan that many emergency services all over the world are looking to offer. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the four major US mobile operators – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile – have all agreed to roll out text-to-911 technology in 2013, making it available to all by May 15, 2014.
With BT handling over 30 million emergency calls a year, the London Fire Brigade believes it is "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 firefighters union is skeptical. Ian Leahair a spokesman for the Fire Brigades Union, told the press: "It is a ludicrous idea. It will inevitably lead to more hoax calls."
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