Recognizing that social media is often the best early warning system in a natural disaster or potential crisis, Google’s Public Alerts has added Twitter to its data mix.
The alerts — for tornado warnings, flood advisories, wild fires, etc. — are pushed out on Google Now, Search and Google Maps giving users information to help cope with emergencies. From the Google Crisis Response Google+ page:
Many people on the front lines of a disaster are sharing relevant information through social media. We want to help make this content easier to find, and available alongside information from official sources.
It’s no small feat to identify the most useful information— but it’s important to start somewhere. That’s why we’re taking a first step to integrate social media in our #crisisresponse products.
Starting today, you can find relevant data from Twitter on a subset of Google Public Alerts. We launched Public Alerts to provide updates from official sources, such as the National Weather Service, via Google Now, Search, and Google Maps. Now, some of the more extreme Public Alerts will include Tweets to help answer important questions: are schools closing? Are neighbors evacuating? What are people seeing on the front lines of a storm?
Tweets are being pulled into the alerts in English-language regions for the moment. Here’s how they appear on a mobile phone: