Twitter Is Poised to Lead Real-Time Incident Data


Twitter recently purchased Mixer Labs and their GeoAPI.  The GeoAPI is a robust set of applications (web services for the technically minded) that will allow developers to actively create, query, and otherwise interact with geolocation data.  This means standardized geolocation lookups across all the different Twitter apps and access methods.

The addition of these features  will take the already robust stream of Twitter data and evolve it to support current and future location based services.  A flood of LBS apps built on or around Twitter are sure to hit the market continuing to increase the value of Twitter as a real-time crowd sourced data provider.

Overall, Twitters technology model lends itself excellently to providing incident data.  The real-time, short message nature of the technology allows users to quickly (with little effort) share a thought or important piece of information (like ‘4 car accident at 405N / 10E interchange’).  This is generally useful information and I’ve personally used Twitter to find out what why I was stuck in traffic well before Google Maps or my PND were reporting an incident.  I’ve done it many times, but it usually requires multiple searches using different keywords because Twitter does not have a standardized language or method.  The addition of the GeoAPI will take that complexity out of the equation by introducing significant layers of geolocation data.  Users will be able to search by proximity (or other geolocation data) as well as keyword.  So, instead of searching for ‘accident, 405N, traffic’ I should be able to search ‘traffic’ or ‘accident’ along with my location (or along my route) and find the nearest relevant messages.

This type of technology integration and growth is exactly what the automotive telematics industry will need to embrace to stay current and deliver what customers are looking for.  How long before we have an in-car application that is regularly updating a position to Twitter? Or even better a button on the navigation screen that lets users report an incident with minimal effort?

Twitter has millions of users (ranked #14 on, millions of Twitter capable hardware and software applications (including SMS and Twitter specific apps), and the GeoAPI (on top of an already strong TwitterAPI).  With the battle over real-time data continuing to evolve Twitter is in a position to be the next major player in real-time crowd sourced incident data.

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