Zello keeps people informed during unrest in South Africa

Gosai, also from Durban, was among 180,000 people who downloaded Zello following Zuma’s arrest. Users subscribe to channels to talk to each other, sending live audio files that can be accessed by anyone listening to the channel.

Zello was originally designed to help people communicate and organize themselves after natural disasters. With Wi-Fi or a data connection, people can use it to broadcast their location, share tips, and communicate with rescuers or survivors following a hurricane, flood, or any other situation. emergency. In the United States, Zello found ground in Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in 2017. The app is also used by taxi drivers, paramedics and delivery people who want to send hands-free voice messages, according to Raphael Varieras, Zello’s Vice President of Operations. Since Zello is a voice-focused platform, it’s faster than typing and doesn’t require any reading and writing skills.

But recent events suggest that the use of Zello is also increasingly being used to connect people in troubled areas. Hours after the last Israeli-Palestinian conflict, downloads have skyrocketed to 100 times their usual rate, for example. And Cuba has also seen an increase in downloads amid protests over food and medicine shortages. Unsurprisingly, this development has prompted some countries to ban the app, including China, Venezuela and Syria.

Without a formal emergency response system like US 911, South Africans are increasingly turning to Zello to coordinate ad hoc ambulances and neighborhood patrols. One channel, South Africa Community Action Network, has 11,600 paid members who donate for emergency services like ambulances, as well as more than 33,000 non-paid members, according to a blog post on the site.

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