By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When traveling or living abroad, access to continuously updated safety, security and general information can help travelers and residents stay informed. For U.S. citizens in Brazil, the U.S. Government recently launched both a new Brazil specific Twitter feed and a free Smart Traveler app.
To better assist the current and future residents as well as the future attendees of the upcoming mega-events in Brazil such as this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup and World Youth Day, the U.S. Embassy in Brasília recently began the twitter feed @USCitsBrazil.
That account works in addition to the U.S. State Department’s @TravelGov Twitter account which began in the fall of 2010 and currently has over 324,000 followers.
Both @TravelGov and @USCitsBrazil provide important safety and security information for travelers and residents with @USCitsBrazil posting information specific to U.S. Citizens currently in or with travel plans that include Brazil.
“The @USCitsBrazil Twitter feed will send information around the clock to followers (24/7) when there is any kind of security warning or advisory from the embassy, including information about personal security, but our main focus is on providing practical information for travelers and residents,” an embassy spokesperson told The Rio Times.
“We will also make followers aware of the services we offer including help with voter registration and mailing ballots, registering U.S. citizen births in Brazil, or how to get documents notarized,” the embassy spokesperson explained.
In addition to the Twitter feeds there is also a free Smart Traveler app to help U.S. citizens stay informed when abroad. Part of the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country, The Smart Traveler app was first launched in June 2011.
For recent travel warnings and alerts there are selectable icons at the bottom of the app’s menu. Users can also browse the app by country through typing in a country’s name or searching alphabetically through the provided list.
Once the country is selected user options include; the “Know Before You Go” section with travel warnings; the “US Relations Fact Sheet” with more information about U.S. relations with the selected country; or the “US Embassies/Consulates” selection for a complete list of all U.S. embassies & consulates overseas.
For travelers, the app can be used to build personalized eTineraries, with the ability to name, add notes and save custom itineraries. Users can also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program through the app at the bottom of the eTineraries screen.
Enrollment in the program helps the State Department to better assist users during an emergency and all personal information provided by users will remain private. With the exception of extreme cases where traveler’s safety and welfare are endangered, the State Department is prohibited under the Privacy Act of 1974 from sharing the information without user’s written consent.