Twitter promotes case study on how government uses its network

Last July, Twitter launched  Twitter 101 for Business, a guide for getting started on  Twitter. The site covers the basics of Twitter, the lingo, and includes case studies.

Today, Twitter posted its first government agency example of how to use Twitter for “the business of government,” a case study featuring the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (find USGS Twitter IDs at GovTwit). For those that aren’t familiar with USGS, their mission is to provide “reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.” A lot of people probably know them for the vast data they publish around earthquakes.

As Twitter highlights, “the case doesn’t represent a specific business usage. However, it is a phenomenal example of how Twitter has become a tool to help people throughout the world when they need it the most—after a devastating event.”

One of the U.S. Geological Survey’s unique responsibilities is the monitoring and reporting of earthquakes, which affect the daily lives of people around the world. By mining real-time tweets, the USGS expands its suite of seismically derived information and obtains first-hand accounts of shaking seconds after an earthquake occurs.


The USGS’s involvement in Twitter was not spontaneously initiated by one of our lab coat-adorned scientists. Instead, we are entering the fray slowly, simply by listening—listening to the thousands of “earthquake!”, “gempa!”, and “temblor!” tweets submitted by Twitter users throughout the world immediately following earthquakes.

These tweets begin seconds after the shaking hits and can be transmitted from regions where voice communication is slowed from heavy usage. In sparsely instrumented regions, they can be our first indication that an earthquake may have occurred.

The USGS is automatically gathering, summarizing, and mapping earthquake tweets to provide a rapid overview of what people experienced during an earthquake. Our Twitter-based application provides tweet counts for affected cities and lists the tweets generated immediately following the event.

Nice to see the robust community of gov using Twitter  (nearly 3,000 strong at getting some recognition from Twitter itself. Would be even nicer if the compnay took the time to grant “Verified Account” status to the USGS IDs they highlight in the case study.

UPDATE: 3/24/10: Hmmm, wonder if Twitter was listening – @USGSted has just been made a “verified account” (but other USGS accounts remain without the designation).

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  • David

    Nice find, looks like an interesting article. Couldn’t agree more about the ‘Verified Accounts’ for Govt. agencies, this needs to happen soon if more #gov20 initiatives are to take off.


  • Scott Horvath

    Steve, thanks for blogging about the @USGSted account. It’s great to see that a government agency, like the USGS, is being recognized for the work it’s doing with social media tools such as Twitter.

  • Steve Lunceford

    Thanks for the comments Scott and David. While I give Twitter a hard time about not verifying more gov accounts (if I’d have to guess, there are more celeb accounts verified), I wonder how many agencies have submitted a request to have their accounts verified (via

  • Mark Drapeau

    I had submitted a verification request not so much to actually get verified, but to check their customer service. It took at least six months to get a one sentence negative reply.

  • Jennifer Stanfield

    Steve, thanks for the perspective. We are exploring getting “verified” and “listed” and this is very helpful perspective.

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