Thanks to some TARP funds, USGS developed the Twitter Early Detection project or TED. The system gathers real-time, earthquake-related messages from the social networking site Twitter and applies place, time, and key word filtering to gather geo-located accounts of shaking.
While only anecdotal evidence, Twitter users report information about quakes in a matter of seconds, whereas accurate scientific information can take from 2 to 20 minutes. By adopting and embracing these new technologies, the USGS potentially can augment its earthquake response products and the delivery of hazard information.
I think this innovative use ofnew technologies by USGS is awesomeness! Check out the google map of tweets from today's earthquake here.