What the Tech? Zello app allows communication among storm victims when phone lines are down
As Hurricane Florence approaches the North and South Carolina coasts, many people around the country will be trying to stay in touch. That is usually very difficult during catastrophic events, even with today's technology. If they decide to stay in their homes and power goes out, they may not have access to the internet through their home or WiFi connection. Many times cellular carriers are overwhelmed with traffic and urge their customers to stay off their devices so that first responders have no trouble with emergency calls.
Apps such as "What's App" and "Twitter" can be good for communicating with loved ones, but there's a walkie-talkie app called Zello that's a better solution.
Zello is a push-to-talk app that acts just like a walkie talkie. Even in areas with very little cell coverage, Zello works because it requires low bandwidth. All communication is through the app so everyone you want to stay in contact with will need to have it on their phones. You do connect with them by searching for their username or phone number. You'll also need to use your mobile number to use the app.
If you reach out to someone with the app and they cannot answer, they'll get your call the next time they log onto the app. This is helpful if they are unable to use the app because of no cell signal at all but can connect at another location.
Last September Zello lept to the top of the app stores as people downloaded it in advance of Hurricane Irma on the Florida Gulf Coast. It was dismissed by many people who misunderstood that it does not need a WiFi connection. Zello claims over 100,000 people use the app.
I also connected with two friends in the path of Irma who had lost power. One friend created a hurricane network of users and she said everyone was able to use the app with no problem. "It works," she said.
Users can also listen in on emergency channels for updates on road closures, damage and emergency situations.
Zello is a good app for anyone to have on their phone, even if they're not in an area with the potential for hurricanes. It can be used in the event of any power outage or poor cellular coverage.