Unless you’ve been living below ground for the last 24 hours, those of you in the UK can’t have helped notice it’s a bit windy out.
This sort of severe weather inevitably brings disruption, but I’ve been heartened to see a number of organisations using social media to spread the word quickly.
The social media folks @VirginTrains, Amy & Ste, have been doing a great job of relaying information out via Twitter, especially regarding heavily disrupted services into Scotland. Behind the scenes Virgin has been leading the UK rail industry on a project to improve the flow of information to passengers during disruption, and from what I’ve seen today, it seems to be working really well.
They are clearly providing a bi-directional conduit for information – they are getting their info from regular incident update calls (which should happen every 20 minutes, apparently), and direct from their route control, which means the information is very fresh, rather than out of date, which has classically been the normal complaint if you were to phone National Rail Enquiries.
What is missing is a copy of the Twitter feed on the Virgin Trains website – there’s currently no realtime information about the state of their service today provided on their website, no banner saying, “It is windy. Stuff is broken. Please check before you travel.” It is relatively trivial to embed an “alert bar” and/or a Twitter feed into a webpage, and would help those who happen to not use Twitter.
Also worthy mentions to @HeathrowAirport and @LondonCityAir(port) who have been using The Force for good today, providing regular updates about issues with travel to LHR due to a fallen tree on the Piccadilly Line, and to LCY due to an earlier meltdown on the DLR and the high winds making landing and taking off a challenge for the pilots on the smaller planes which fly to London City.
The main thing I think the LCY Twitter folks could do better right now is actually give more info about what is/isn’t cancelled – rather than “contact your airline” which sort of smacks of “not our problem”, even if that’s not the sentiment.
Ah well, wind has picked up again and the sideways rain has returned. I’ll see if I can spy an ark coming down the street.