Celly and the Weather
Well, hurricane Issac has moved on, and life is slowly getting back to normal in south Mississippi and Louisiana. And I can tell you, that using Celly to get information out via SMS Text messaging was successful. I did not try to reach the entire population of the northern Gulf Coast region because it would have been a cumbersome deployment on such short notice. And, I spent a lot of the time during the storm tweaking the messages so users did not get inundated with text messages, the KEY difference between Celly and Twitter.
After the storm, I spent some time trying to figure out other ways Celly could be of use to the public and educators. Well, to date, I have created multiple cells that take official feeds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. This helps folks stay on top of any road closings due to weather or accidents or just massive traffic problems.
I also began creating weather cells to alert local residents about severe weather watches and warnings in the county in which I reside. Which lead me to creating another one for some educator friends in another county, and yet another cell for more educator friends in another county. Which has led me to this blog. I had a tweet from someone who had seen the cells, and was wondering how I did it. Well here we go!!
The great thing about Celly is the ability to have multiple cells maintained and administered by a single account. Now most folks may think that would create a time consuming effort for someone to create, maintain, and update each individual cell. But that is not the case. The guys at Celly created a feature called “receptors” that allows each specific cell scan Twitter accounts or any RSS feed to find any information you wish it to find. And the best thing about it is that when Celly finds content that meets your criteria, it automatically transmits it to the cell. And if the content does not exactly precisely match your criteria, it does NOT get transmitted.
With that in mind, it became very simple to create “receptors” that searched out a specific Twitter account with special weather statements that contained the word “Oktibbeha”. It proved successful on Labor Day Monday when it was beautiful and sunny outside, but by mid afternoon, despite the great weather, Oktibbeha County was placed under a Tornado Watch. Celly alerted the users to the watch. Later that night, as weather was bad in counties surrounding us, out cell members could relax knowing that unless they get a SMS message from Celly, they were ok. No one had to stayed glued to the tv watching weather updates. And they were not getting flooded by Twitter feeds with everyone telling them it was windy and rainy outside and that bad weather might be on the way.
So, that is how I used the receptors to create location specific weather cells that can be used to alert residents AND educators of potentially dangerous weather so they can keep their students safe. To see a list of the cells I have created, click here. Feel free to join one, share it, or let me know if I can create one specifically for you.