Snow hits UK, but train travel information arrives via Twitter

The best way to get reliable UK train travel updates during the current light covering of snow appears to be the excellent uktrains service, which publishes updates to Twitter for 25 rail companies. Especially when the official website for some companies appears to be as reliable as the trains themselves.

Once again Twitter is showing itself as an excellent mechanism for information, following on from the #uksnow mash-up in my last post.

But although it’s still new enough to get coverage on mainstream media such as the BBC, (@bensmith is talking about UKtrains at the BBC as I type), it’s not without precedent (Not to diminish the great work by Ben Smith (uktrains) and Ben Marsh (uksnow).

Back in October 2007, Twitter users @nateritter and @viss used the hashtag #sandiegofire to distribute information on fires in California.

And then there were the earthquakes. US, UK and China.

There was the tragedy in Mumbai, and the use of Twitter to start alerting people about the status of hospitals and need for blood donations.

And some emergency services have a Twitter account, such as the LA Fire Dept.

The interesting thing about #uksnow and uktrains is how the interpretation and use of data pulled from, and pushed into Twitter is evolving to make more effective services for information.

Plenty of people have talked about how Twitter is moving into the mainstream, or how Facebook made an offer to purchase the microblogging service – but in many ways the mainstream are being sucked into Twitter – exactly as happened with Facebook en route to 150 million+ global active users.

Monitor the UK weather via Twitter mash-up

There’s a fantastic Twitter mash-up to capitalise on the UK fascination with weather – even if most of us will only see about an inch of snow at the moment.

#UKsnow Tweets

#UKsnow Tweets

Recommended via @joannejacobs, it works by Twitter users posting a Tweet with the hashtag #uksnow and the appropriate postcode. For example “#uksnow NG9 3/10”

You can see it working by clicking on the image above or visiting the site of the creator, Ben Marsh, but I don’t know how long it will be running for – you could ask him on Twitter at @benmarsh!