Web 2.0, a cryptic term, has come to define any number of Web-based tools and applications designed to foster discussion and give a voice to users. In 2009, one Web 2.0 application for good or ill, caught the fancy of both the public and private sectors at all levels -- Twitter.
Some of the most practical government applications for Twitter began appearing in public safety and emergency notification. For example, the Los Angeles Fire Department updates its Twitter page with bulletins about structural fires, the number of responding firefighters, and injuries and casualties. A typical post could be something like: "12126 Burbank Bl* No 'formal' evacuations; Firefighters maintaining 500' exclusion zone pending LAFD Hazmat arrival."
Other agencies, like the Washington State Department of Transportation, began using Twitter to alert drivers of traffic conditions and route changes to ferry vessels plying the waters of Puget Sound.
Such stories generated numerous comments to www.govtech.com. Some readers offered their own ideas about how government could best use Twitter. Others cited examples of how their local and state governments, including Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Kansas, have already boarded the Twitter express.
In July, with Twitter-mania at an all-time high, some observers voiced concern that Web 2.0 tools were blurring the lines between our private and professional lives.
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