Tweet your emergency: London Fire Brigade plans to accept callouts over Twitter

Tweet your emergency: London Fire Brigade plans to accept callouts over Twitter

In the very near future, the London Fire Brigade might actually want you to tweet about a fire before leaving the building, after it announced that it is looking to set up the world’s first 999 emergency Twitter feed.

The announcement comes after the Brigade published its latest ‘London Safety Plan,’ which assesses how its service will be delivered over the coming years. With the Brigade already using Twitter to broadcast news of emergencies it is attending, it could soon be opened up to allow users to report fires and other incidents using their own Twitter accounts.

The London Fire Brigade says it will look into how apps, social media and microblogging sites like Twitter could be used by the UK public to report incidents. As part of its plan, it intends to work with the Government and London’s Metropolitan Police and Ambulance Service to identify how such a service could be operated.

“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 London Fire Brigade, said. “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.”

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.”

Be sure to keep calling 999 in the event of an emergency, Twitter reports are a way off still.

Image Credit: jstuker/Flickr

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