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April 27, 2009

Effective Coordination and Twitter Panic

It's hard to describe "effective coordination". It's making sure that everybody who needs to know has the information, it's worrying at the details so effectively that the operation goes off without a hitch, it's ensuring no surprises, it's making success so likely that the event is a non-event.

Effective coordination makes itself appear unnecessary.

Ineffective coordination, on the other hand, is a bit like pornography - you know it when you see it. Ineffective coordination looks a lot like this video taken in New York City on Monday. It was a scheduled Air Force One photo opportunity, taking advantage of the beautiful weather, with a fighter escort carrying the photographer. To the people on the ground, who have personal memory of New York on 9/11, the scene looked like a large 747 passenger jet being intercepted, as it descended and turned toward the city. I can see how they got that impression.

Whenever you've got people in the streets yelling "Run", it can't be a good thing. To an extent, it demonstrated that we're not much more prepared to deal with another 9/11 than we were the first time, except that now we can Twitter the panic.

And that'll be the new emotional take-away. Last time it was the people cell-phoning their loved ones for one last time - "Honey, I love you, I'm gonna try the stairs." Next time it'll be 140-character twitter messages, archived for review.

Here's what the Twitter stream looked like:

  • Just saw an incredibly low-flying commercial jet. Everyone started freaking out… @Dr_Ballon

  • Airplane just went by with a fighter jet on its wing - weird @dnuchereno

  • Large commercial jet with a small fighter jet very close tracking visible NJ southwest of NYC- not sure whats up but scary looking @henryschwartz

  • Fighter jet just chased an aircraft right by my window. Scary shit man. I think I’m going home in a few. @jamal_ogarro

  • RT @checheesie Holy Shit Commercial Jet flying WAY low with a fighter jet on its butt. Like 2000 ft from the ground. @Guyverderosa

  • Building evacuated after being buzzed twice by jumbo jet with fighter escort. @mrnosuch

  • Just saw a fighter jet fly upnhard on a commercial airliner over battery park. Didn’t look pretty. Thought I was about to see fireworks. @duckfive

  • Reports of low flying jet with a fighter plane behind it. NY Financial District @joelovesyou

  • We’re evacuating 1 New York Plaza due to a low flying jet. Heading to evacuation point. Thankful for darker training once deemed useless @AKelso20

  • Just saw a jumbojet fly near lower manhattan and a fighter jet too. Ppl are scared and leaving the building. No official evacuation. @AKelso20

  • WFC being evacuated RT @upsidetrader: large commercial jet seen flying low over Hudson-military jet on its tail-breaking wsj $$ @krishvenkat

  • The sounds I heard were of a 747 was escorted by a fighter jet … Hmm What is happening? @shahpriya

  • BREAKING NEWS!!!!! large commercial jet seen flying low over Hudson-military jet on its tail-breaking wsj @playbigstocks

  • working downtown and seeing bldgs evacuate and fighter jets/planes flying near by, you can’t help but to FREAK OUT. @masarascal

  • CNBC just mentioned a low-flying commercial jet spotted in NYC. Anyone? @giromide

  • JFK on lockdown. 747 seen flying low, it’s being escorted by military jet now. @keishaeremic

  • Airplane flying LOW over New York city - accompanied by a jet fighter. 1 New York Plaza is being evacuated, but all seems to be ok @stephanderksen

  • City buildings evacuating due to low flying jet right now.@unitystoakes

  • being evacuated…see how hysteria sets in when you drill and don’t tell anyone?@antiparticle

  • so…Monday, you bring a 747 and fighter jet 100 feet from my office? building evac @drunkmonkey1906

  • We were just evacuated from our building due to a 747 being escorted by a fighter jet flying low right near by. Military Exercise they say. @EasyPrompter

  • Low flying Jet - I’m told Korea air - just went by very very low with Military escort. Mkts going nuts. 9/11 flashbacks… @JEley

  • Large commercial jet seen flying low over H River, appeared to be accompanied by military jet, all the downtown banks are being evacuated @dferraz

  • All hell broke loose in Downtown Manhattan because a commercial plane was followed by a fighter jet. @UndergroundWire

  • A number of buildings were in the process of evacuation when a large commercial aircraft flew over New York City’s Hudson River - CNBC @BreakingNews

  • I saw it and it looked like the jumbo was going to hit buildings. Police are still on bull horns trying to calm people @shans411

  • yikes, what’s this about people evacuating from NY financial district due to low flying jet? Let me get my stuff together and be outie @mediaempress

Update 4/28 0720:


Mark said...

Another fine post. The methods for effective communication were certainly in place, just not one person in the chain of events who didn't assume that someone else "certainly took care of it." "it" in this case being coordination, notification, permission, publicity, whatever. I can see myself as a culpable player in this type of flawed operation. Later, they might have said, "the TRACON said it was okay!"

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