Emergency Alert service announced by Twitter

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Twitter has rolled out its new emergency alert service in collaboration with police forces and the environment agencies to send messages to those who have signed up to the service during emergencies in UK and Ireland.

Users will receive the alert in the form of a text message with an orange bell next to them on the microblogging site indicating an emergency and to make it stand out from other tweets in a user’s timeline.

The service has been designed to deliver information to people in times of natural disasters or other emergencies. The service was developed after Twitter was widely used to find information during the Japanese tsunami in 2011.

“We know from our users how important it is to be able to receive reliable information during these times,” said Twitter while launching the service in the US, Japan and South Korea in September.

The Environment Agency in a statement has confirmed that “We will only use Twitter Alerts to share urgent information about a significant risk to life or the environment as a result of flooding or an environmental incident”.

People who wish to sign up for the new Twitter service will just need to go to each organization’s Twitter feed and sign up for the alert messages. When any organization issues an alert message the signed up users will receive them. The company has claimed that more than 75% of Twitter users access the site from their mobile phone.

Police forces, London Fire Brigade, the Foreign Office, the Environment Agency and UK’s 47 regional police forces have all signed up to use the system. Twitter says it has 232 million monthly active users with 500 million tweets sent every day.