What the Tech? App of the Day: Zello

By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter

Millions of people in the path of Hurricane Ian are still without power with many cell towers down or inoperable, it is extremely difficult for people who need help and people who want to help.

Cellular companies are rolling in temporary portable cellular towers to provide at least some connection to the internet, but these towers often cannot meet the demand of customers.

Rescue departments and volunteers have turned to a smartphone app as a solution. Zello is sort of like a walkie-talkie app allowing users to send audio and text messages to one another even in areas with limited cell service.

Many rescue agencies use Zello to communicate with each other, and so do volunteers like the community, “Cajun Navy Relief” is doing right now to help in Florida.

Cajun Navy formed years ago during Hurricane Irma and began using the Zello app as its sole communication tool. The community currently has volunteers reviewing requests for help and mobilizing volunteers across the country.

It’s pretty amazing to listen to their Zello channel as people from Texas, Virginia, Arizona, and other states far away from Florida, log on to review requests or tickets from victims of Hurricane Ian.

I used Zello a few years ago to check in on a friend in Jacksonville, Florida who had lost power due to another hurricane. She had already set up a Zello community for her family and they stayed in touch throughout the power failure.

To use Zello, everyone in your family or network of friends will need the app on their phone and you’ll need to set up a community and share that information with anyone you want to communicate with. Zello isn’t just for emergencies, but for anywhere there’s a limited cellular network signal such as large events when everyone is using their phone to send photos and call friends.

The app is free for iPhones and Android devices.


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