Vine is an upcoming service from Microsoft soon to be launched as a public beta that is part mini-social site part Twitter and part emergency comms network. Vine works on the .Net Framework and lets you link up with close friends and family to form a group. The group can then interact send messages and see where events are occuring in a map-based IM-like screen. Pertinent news updates can be received and passed to the group when local relevant events occur.
You can set up your Vine application to send and receive messages to and from different groups (be it an office group sports team or alternate bunch of friends) in different ways; by email text message Facebook or other social service. This ties Vine into your general PC usage. So far so normal. Where it could step out from other products is the map screen that offers location-based information for group members and events. It is easy enough to generate maps from tweets and other sources but a highly personalised one could be something new and more useful.
Naturally enough the information from the initial closed beta has an all-American focus so weather events from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration be they tornadoes floods or heavy snow and other potential disasters can be fed through to users in the appropriate region. However if the app spreads worldwide it would not hard to tie into local services including traffic power outages surf conditions or political upheaval wherever you may be in the world.
Vine opens up a host of potential uses
As Micosoft tries to generate money from its Live offerings it seems there will be a basic free edition of Vine with additional features most likely aimed at business available for paying users. If you feel overwhelmed by the flood of Tweets on Twitter Vine may offer a more relaxed friendly and personal environment for you to contact family and if things turn nasty it might provide a more reliable source of information in an emergency. The beta is open for a limited number of users and opens in May.