Microsoft launches Vine – Twitter for emergencies


Microsoft has a new software product called Vine that it’s beta testing with a small group of users in Seattle. It’s a location-aware social networking app that lets people share information in emergencies. As a result, the focus is on ease-of-use and robustness of the network in tough conditions.

The Windows-only program sits on your desktop and gathers data from local news sources and other users. You can post short ‘alerts’ or longer ‘reports’ to it via SMS and email, and it integrates with Facebook. Soon it’ll integrate with Twitter, too.

Emergency management officials are reportedly very excited about having a new tool to inform people in disaster situations, but Microsoft also says it could be used by football teams or schools to notify of closures or schedule changes.

If you live in Seattle and want to help Microsoft beta test it, then you can sign up at If not, sit tight and with any luck it’ll be available in the UK within the next couple of years.

Vine (via Mashable)

Japanese disaster recovery robot


A coffin with tank treads. That’s what this thing looks like. Japanese city Yokohama’s disaster recovery department has come up with it as a way to ferry people from danger zones back to safety.

Basically, you stuff an injured person in the tube, and he can then be moved around remotely thanks to the onboard infrared camera. It’ll monitor the patient’s blood flow and vital signs, but I can’t help but think that it doesn’t look terribly cushioned, and there’s a good chance that the occupant might slide out if the robot goes up too steep an incline.

If you were lying in a disaster area with two broken legs, a concussion and a dislocated shoulder, would you get in this thing? Or would you rather walk? I know which I’d pick.

Keep your eye on the destruction of the planet with the Real-Time Global Disaster Alert Map

How are you feeling? Feeling good? Happy? Good, well go look at something else.

Feeling terribly depressed? Just watched ‘Zeitgeist the Movie‘ and think the world is going to hell in a teacup? Well, excellent. Join me, and read on…

The world is a big place, and no matter how often you read the papers or watch the news, you have no idea exactly how big the scale of the problems that exist at anyone time around the planet really is. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Biological Hazards, Chemical accidents.. all these things are happening somewhere on the globe right now and unless you have access to the Thunderbirds mission control computer on Tracy Island, then you’re completely ignorant of them all.

Well, you were. Not anymore. Because EDIS, a non-profit emergency services organisation in Hungary, has provided us with a free-to-use online map compiling all of the world’s reported disasters in continually refreshing real-time. The perfect thing to look at and fret over.