By Tracy Jones
With the cyclone season now upon us, all of us in the Top End need to be prepared. With your cyclone kit packed, your insurance updated and your family emergency plan updated, you need to think about how you will access the information you need to get through.
Our research at Creative Territory has shown us that up to 90 per cent of Top Enders are now using the web and social media to find out what is going on. The problem is, the social media space is now so overcrowded with “experts” it is hard to know who to trust.
Here’s our advice on where to go, depending on the type of information you are looking for:
1. For official weather information go to www.bom.gov.au The Bureau of Meteorology issues all official cyclone watches and warnings. It is also the place to watch the latest radar information. You can also see radar images by downloading the Rain? app on your mobile phone or tablet device.
2. For official updates on government information and services, go to www.secureNT.nt.gov.au This site aggregates information from all NT Government agencies in one place. It also includes useful tips to help you get ready for the season. You can also like secureNT on Facebook (www.facebook.com/secureNT) or follow them on Twitter (www.twitter.com/@secureterritory). This is a trusted source for official information.
3. If you are looking for more colour and interest but still want to have a reasonable level of trust in the information, use local traditional media outlets. ABC regularly updates its website with the latest information. ABC Darwin, The NT News and Nine News Darwin have very active social media channels through both Facebook and Twitter.
4. A number of websites provide great professional and para-professional commentary on weather conditions as they change. Try www.northauschasers.com , the Weather Channel or Weather Zone.
5. In Twitter, do a search for hashtags that will help you sift through information. For example, in the Top End, search for #topend which is used by many locals to help index their Tweets. Once a cyclone is declared, many Tweets will use the appropriate hashtag – for example, during Cyclone Carlos in Darwin many people used #Carlos or #TCCarlos Just be aware that not all this information can be trusted – not because people are trying to fool you, but because not everyone has accurate information.
6. Watch out for what your friends are saying and see what people you follow are saying. They’ll provide you with a very local weather forecast right from their own home.