April 27th, 2010

NWS & Twitter: Tweet your #wxreport; Time again for #pubmed?

Edit: They may want to reconsider shortening to just #wx and including state initials, check out how Twitter was used to cover a tornado in Arkansas on April 30th using #arwx & especially the critique of Facebook-to-Twitter auto posts.

I think announcements from the National Weather Service (NWS) are about the only time we can read information in ALL CAPS and not feel like we’re being yelled at.

The all caps version is at http://www.weather.gov/stormreports/PNSWSH.txt, but the fun usage of red ALL CAPS is at http://www.weather.gov/stormreports/ complete with regular writing encouraging you to report significant weather events in your area on Twitter.

The reason they are exploring this as of April 15th until the end of 2010 is Twitter now has geotagging capabilities available to identify where you are located.

If you’re a little concerned about privacy and don’t want to turn on Twitter geotagging (as I haven’t), the site gives you information on both how to enable geotagging and tweet weather events in your area, or how to tweet to report a significant weather event (what that means is covered too) by using this format

#wxreport  WW  your location WW  your significant weather report

Following this format for Snowpocalypse 2008 that wrecked our Christmas, I would tweet a conservative

#wxreport  WW  N Seattle, WA WW  Local roads flooding w/1′snow+now rain!

or something along those lines. If things were really crazy I might consider turning on geotagging to allow for more detail though since that allows for #wxreport your significant weather report

I’m excited to see a government agency experimenting with the use of Twitter and a publicized, searchable hashtag (the #wxreport part of the tweet ) to enable data to better serve the public and their local weather forecasting offices. I hope it goes well for them and that the spammers stay far away from it & not wreck the data as they did with #pubmed feedback although that seems to have died down dramatically since January.

Is it time to try #pubmed again now that @ncbi_pubmed is an official National Library of Medicine social media channel? Are they listening? What other government or local agencies can do something similar? What can be done to filter out the noise?

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