A new social-media emergency alert system, TurkeyAlerts, is being developed by realtime notification technologists at the TurkeyBlocks project. The developers are looking to extend their work in realtime notification to track terror alerts, emergency situations and substantiated bomb threats in Turkey’s population centres.
"Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Credible Threats to Public Squares and Docks in Istanbul and Antalya" https://t.co/0f9VEva7Ks
— Turkey Alerts (@TurkeyAlerts) April 9, 2016
The project outline describes a system, initially available on Twitter, which detects threat level indicators, including online “chatter” as well as open sources such as keywords in embassy social media and verifiable online posts, sharing them with a wider audience.
— Turkey Blocks (@TurkeyBlocks) March 22, 2016
The Turkish government has been criticised for failing to publish safety alerts to its own citizens, while consular warnings have generally proved accurate and reliable. Social media is playing a growing role in emergency-handling worldwide.
Project founders explain that one of the primary goals is to prevent disinformation, or fake posts which can circulate rapidly on social media platforms in times of heightened anxiety over Turkey’s declining security conditions.
Tourists, expatriates and foreign workers are also described as a group who may feel left out from existing emergency platforms. Unlike most European countries, the Turkey government rarely provides alerts in languages other than Turkish, leaving visitors disadvantaged and potentially at risk.
Supporting local businesses and economic prosperity
Fake alerts and disinformation can have a negative impact on local businesses, both small and large. TurkeyAlerts developers tell D8 News that providing trustworthy, rapid alerts from reputable sources can reduce the impact to Turkey’s foundering industry.
Ongoing data journalism project extends scope
Sister-project TurkeyBlocks has found an important niche providing alerts when country-wide censorship events take place, typically following emergency situations.
— Turkey Blocks (@TurkeyBlocks) March 19, 2016
The project provides rapid notifications during incidents of interest, and also produces visual explainer videos that can shed light on incidents, aiding both locals and the international community. The project has become an important partner for NGOs, startups and media organisations that need precise data about the situation on the ground in Turkey. The TurkeyAlerts research project will run for an initial three months, after which its continuation will be gauged by viewership statistics.