Twitter Alerts launch brings 'life-saving' emergency tweets to U.K. & Ireland

Twitter has announced the launch of its emergency alerts system in the United Kingdom and Ireland today, which it says will make it easier for organisations to share critical information as quickly as possible in times of crisis. 

Twitter Alerts launches with the support of 57 key agencies and organisations across the U.K. and Ireland, including 47 police forces, the London Fire Brigade, the British Red Cross and CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), among others. 

Starting today, these organisations will be able to reach their followers through special tweets marked with the #alert hashtag, and highlighted with an orange bell to draw attention to the urgency of the message.

Twitter users on iPhone (iOS 5.10 or higher) and Android (4.1.6 or higher) will also receive a push notification on their handsets. We have contacted Twitter to check if there are plans to extend this push notification support to owners of Windows Phones or BlackBerry devices.

All users, regardless of OS, can also sign up to receive Alerts from these accounts via SMS.

You will need to opt in to receive Alerts from each Twitter account separately by visiting its dedicated setup page at twitter.com/accountusername/alerts. You can view a full list of all participating organisations on this page

Signing up for Alerts is a simple process; when you visit the setup page for an account, you'll be greeted with this view: 

Just click on the 'Activate Alerts' link to proceed to the next step. Setting up a phone number for SMS alerts is optional; take note of Twitter's warning that "others will be able to find you Twitter by your phone number. You can change this through your account settings at any time." 

You may also notice that only a small number of mobile networks are listed on the setup page. Carriers such as EE, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, giffgaff and many others have not been included here. It is unclear whether the operators not listed here have chosen not to participate in the Alerts programme; we have requested clarification from Twitter on this matter, and will update this article if they provide us with further details. 

Organisations that have signed up to participate in Twitter Alerts in the U.K. and Ireland have welcomed the launch of the programme with open arms. Commander David Martin, who heads up emergency planning for London's Metropolitan Police Service, said: "Getting fast and accurate information to the public in a major incident or terrorist attack really could make a life-saving difference... Twitter Alerts means that our messages will stand out when it most matters." 

Update: Twitter has replied to our request for further clarification on some of the details shared above, but unfortunately they have "nothing to add" to the information already included in their blog post. So if you were hoping for more information on Windows Phone or BlackBerry support, or the ability to get SMS alerts if you're not on one of the few mobile networks listed, it looks like you'll have to keep waiting for now. 

Source: Twitter UK | images 1 + 2 via Twitter

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What kind of alerts they can serve for UK and Ireland? Seriously, it's good idea but I can't find any reason for using such thing there. Riots maybe?

Well, riots is one possibility - although let's hope we don't see that again.

Flood warnings, travel advisories, terrorist threats or attacks, missing person appeals, warnings or appeals related to wanted criminals or escaped prisoners... there's plenty of information that warrants a high-priority alert.

I think cell providers in the US already have this possibility. I got an Amber Alert one day pushed through from Verizon...

If this #alert service only applies to the UK and Ireland, why does this article show an image of a tweet stating "gunshots on Capitol Hill. If in a #Senate office, shelter in place. If not go to nearest office" - what relevance does that have to people in the UK and Ireland!!!???

It doesn't "only apply to the UK and Ireland". Twitter Alerts launched in the US several months ago; a similar service is also available in Japan and Korea. Evidently, Twitter simply reused existing graphics from their US announcement in today's UK and Ireland blog post.

If you visit this page - https://about.twitter.com/prod...participating-organizations - you can see all of the organisations that participate in Twitter Alerts in all of the aforementioned countries.

I am not surprised. 2 years ago I was mugged in London and when I filed a police report the police was all suspicious and they even implied that I was trying to get money from the insurance company and they would arrest me if they find it out. That's when hell broke lose. I had never shouted at a police officer before and it was my first.

The funny thing is I wasn't even insured!