SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Open Garden announces today the release of FireChat Alerts, the first alerting service to leverage peer-to-peer mobile mesh networking technology. FireChat Alerts enables organizations to reach people on their smartphone, even when cellular networks and Internet access are unavailable.
The United Nations estimated that more than 200 million people are affected by humanitarian crises and natural disasters each year. As world leaders prepare for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently published a report that highlighted how "Honouring our commitment to leave no one behind requires reaching everyone in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability and risk." FireChat Alerts was created for this purpose.
FireChat Alerts is a new application for mobile devices and the web, designed for governmental organizations, NGOs and media to broadcast and disseminate 'one-to-very-many' alerts to mobile devices within a specific geographical area and period of time. FireChat Alerts acts as a resilient large-scale broadcasting system, reaching people's smartphones to deliver text and visual information including early warning, emergency and health advisories, as well as weather and traffic information.
"Witnessing an average of 20 typhoons annually, everyone in the Philippines has a very keen interest in innovation that helps both in preparedness and response during and after emergencies," said Gil Francis Arevalo, Community Engagement Officer of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in the Philippines. "The technology behind FireChat Alerts has huge potential. We began exploring the possibilities with Open Garden as part of OCHA's commitment to the members of the Community of Practice (CoP) on Community Engagement."
Alerts are transmitted directly from one smartphone to the next via Open Garden's peer-to-peer mesh networking technology. This is the first time that messages can transit through a brand new path: our own smartphones, instead of centralized networks. Each device can store and forward the alerts, allowing them to propagate and reach more and more people, and extending the reach of messages beyond the abilities of traditional networks.
"FireChat Alerts can reach more people than is possible via traditional networks, even when mobile apps or SMS cannot work. Since the technology is 100% software-based, it does not require any hardware or capital investments, is easy to deploy, and scales infinitely," said Christophe Daligault, CMO of Open Garden. "As an active member of the Community of Practice (CoP) on Community Engagement, we are extremely grateful for the collaboration with the UNOCHA and the opportunity to raise awareness for the benefits of this new resilient technology."
People who have the FireChat messaging app on their smartphone receive the alerts as they spread within the designated area, even when cellular networks and Internet access are unavailable or congested, as is often the case in an emergency. Open Garden's technology is also available as a Software Development Kit (SDK) for organizations who wish to enable peer-to-peer mobile communications in their own existing apps or services.
Open Garden Inc. will showcase FireChat Alerts at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016. For more information about the World Humanitarian Summit, please visit www.worldhumanitariansummit.org.
For more information about UNOCHA, please visit www.unocha.org.
About Open Garden & FireChat
Open Garden is a San Francisco-based startup dedicated to connecting the next 5 billion mobile devices with peer-to-peer connections. Open Garden is the creator of FireChat.
Often called the "people's network," FireChat is a free messaging app, available on iOS and Android devices. Built on revolutionary peer-to-peer mesh networking technology, FireChat allows people to communicate privately or publicly, with other people "offline" even if they cannot connect to the Internet or to a cellular phone network.
Launched in March 2014, FireChat has reached the top 10 among social networking apps in 124 countries around the world. In 2015, FireChat received an Innovation Award at SXSW, the Boldness in Business Award by the Financial Times, and the Tech4Resilience Award by Making All Voices Count.
For more information about how FireChat works, please watch this short video.
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Keywords: natural disasters, disaster preparedness, emergency communication, Communication as Aid, resilient networks, Communicating with Communities, World Humanitarian Summit, peer-to-peer, innovation, OCHA, UNOCHA, Android, iOS, FireChat, #commisaid, #ShareHumanity, #Resilience, #SDGs
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SOURCE Open Garden