FastCompany writes about the way twitter proved to be very useful during the californian fire disaster:
the service is allowing thousands of Southern California residents to stay safe by receiving up-to-the-minute geographical information about the spreading fires. Twitter’s short, instant updates are perfect for bare-bones, factual updates, and and it’s not the only Web service helping out panicked Californians. Several Google Maps mashups have emerged with dynamic blaze information and evacuation details, and a number of blogs are tracking the destruction chronologically to allow people to predict if their homes will stay safe.
People could track the relevant tweet-threads by following keywords such as #sandiegofire. Some relied much more on this source of information (i.e. tweets via mobile decive) than their landline based internet connection, which could have broken down at any time.
This is obviously a tragic example of how twitter can be useful. But nevertheless it shows that there is a lot of potential in this one-to-many sms/microblogging tool.
(via and the email of a colleague)