Snow Business-Twitter to the rescue

Posted by on Dec 10, 2010 in Twitter | No Comments
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Last week I made this video blog about the snow and the different reactions people had
to coping with the weather. Then Monday happened.
A weekend thaw lulled us all into a false sense of security and I, like most of the country,
ventured out in the Monday rush hour only to get a nasty surprise. In a matter of minutes
the roads turned into ice rinks and the blizzards reduced visibility to practically zero. The
whole country ground to a halt.
We’ve spent the week recovering, if you can call it that. I know I’m not alone in losing serious
productivity – rescheduling meetings, postponing deadlines and helping out clients and
neighbours alike as best I could. But rather than moan about the woeful response by so
many agencies, I thought I’d focus on the silver lining – Twitter to the rescue.
If anyone still needs convincing of the power of this microblogging service with a
misleadingly-cutesy name, the weather crisis should prove its worth. Bus companies
used it to tell us which routes were running, councils used it to tell us which schools were
closing, universities used it to tell us which classes were cancelled and, most importantly,
motorists used it to find out which roads were passable. (The police, to my knowledge,
provided no such service, nor did the Scottish government.)
I know at least two journalists who got some fantastic human interest stories out of a little
mournful tweet. I know my sister, stuck in a car, desperate for the loo, took great comfort
from the little tweets of sympathy from her friends. I know I laughed when my friend tweeted
he was building a snowman on the M77 with the other fed-up drivers. (If only he’d taken a
picture!)
For me, sitting at home, feeling guilty about staying indoors when my husband had dug out the
car and left for work an hour early to give himself plenty of time, Twitter was like an all-seeing
eye. People assured me I’d done the right thing, told me which roads would have been blocked,
which trains would have been cancelled and how slippy the pavements really were (the ones
who know I’m pregnant were particularly vociferous, which was very touching – thanks guys!).
Add to the Twitter omniscience the fact that I can easily work remotely, and the week, while
frustrating, was not a complete write-off. I wonder, if more companies were set up like mine,
how much of Monday’s madness could have been averted. If, like the Transport Minister, we
hadn’t ignored the Sunday night weather warnings and had all been told to work from home
on Monday, would the number of poor souls risking hypothermia been reduced or even
prevented completely?
Wishful thinking, I’m sure, but I’ll be interested to see if businesses learn any lessons at all
from our snow woes.

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