What can organizations do to increase the bandwidth of community and team sense-making? The LA Fire Dept. is tapping into the collection of one-one and one-many applications in the Web 2.0 arena. A story from Computerworld describes how they were inspired by the communications collapse during Hurricane Katrina.
The fire department uses Twitter to post information about fires or other emergencies that it is responding to. These messages are then sent to users signed up to receive the information on their mobile devices...Government agencies are not usually known using cutting-edge technology, but the LAFD has immersed itself in various Web 2.0 projects, including a blog, a real-time alert service, a Flickr photo site and a live Internet radio show...
"We can no longer afford to work at the speed of government," [said the LAFD's public information officer]. "We have responsibilities to the public to move the information as quickly as possible ... so that they can make key decisions."
Their Twitter feed let's subscribers keep track of incidents in the city like a modern police-band scanner. But I wonder what kind of personalization will develop for the subscriptions? There are far too many incidents in the City of Angels to be relevant to any one resident. On the other hand, in a major disaster, millions of citizens may need to be given information or instructions. It might be the same message to everyone ("Refinery fire in Long Beach: Stay indoors until further notice") or very specific instructions based on identity or current location ("Evacuate Los Angeles via Interstate 15").
Of course, only a fraction of the population will have Twitter accounts, but millions have mobile phones and the system knows who and where they are at any given time