I discovered a new account on Twitter that struck me, at first glance, kind of funny. A sample tweet from @OntarioWarnings:
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING ISSUED FOR EPANOLA – KILLARNEY. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.
— Ontario Warnings (@OntarioWarnings) June 19, 2012
It’s not that needing to take cover due to a severe thunderstorm is humorous (far from it), it’s the fact that all tweets from this account have some form of all-caps. All-caps, the Internet version of YELLING, struck me as strangely appropriate for an account that warns people of impending danger.
Then I thought, “Boy, this is a great idea.” But do I really need to know it’s thunder-storming in Kenora when I’m in Guelph? The noise to signal ratio, especially given the all-caps is pretty low. How to make the account more relevant?
This is where If this then that (or IFTTT) has come to the rescue. It’s a web service that lets a whole bunch of other web services (like Twitter, Evernote and even the non-web SMS) talk & do things to each other. The genius is how easily you can create recipes to do these useful things. For example, right now I use a recipe that archives all my tweets into a single Evernote note. With this, all my tweets are archived and easily searchable. Magic! Useful!
OK, back to OMG! ONTARIO WARNINGS! I’ve created an IFTTT recipe that searches @OntarioWarning’s twitter stream for mentions of Wellington County or the city of Guelph. It then sends me an SMS message to my cell phone with the text of the tweet. I do have IFTTT to thank for help figuring this out:
— IFTTT (@IFTTT) June 19, 2012
So for the collective benefit of humanity (or, at least those living within Ontario) here’s the recipe for your use.
If you live in Guelph or Wellington County, then you don’t need to change a thing. If you live elsewhere in the province, you’ll need to update the search “guelph OR wellington from:ontariowarnings” to “x or y from:ontariowarnings” where x is the city you live in and y is your county. Obviously, you can add or remove search terms to expand or narrow just when you get pinged about an EMERGENCY!