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How to keep chatting if cyclone Nisarga knocks out your Internet

  • Bridgefy app creates a mesh network with users’ devices, where a text travels from phone to phone - from a sender to receiver, thus, eliminating the need for the Internet

Cyclone Amphan, which recently hit West Bengal and Odisha, knocked out Internet connectivity in many parts of these states. Now with cyclone Nisarga making landfall over the Maharashtra coast, it is possible that the state will have to meet the same fate. While there is much one cannot do today without the Internet, our phones can still be useful for communication.

Internet-less communication apps have commonly been used in areas where governments have control over such connections, for instance in Kashmir. These apps use Bluetooth and peer-to-peer technologies to keep communication networks up in a crisis.

Bridgefy

The app uses Bluetooth for communication, meaning it can work for people who are in close contact with each other. However, Bridgefy also creates a mesh network with users’ devices, where a text travels from phone to phone - from a sender to receiver, thereby, eliminating the need for the Internet. The app can also be used for broadcasting messages to users, which can be quite useful during such a time.

Firechat

Firechat is another app that can create mesh networks using Bluetooth and P2P WiFi connections. It can be used to send messages among devices that are within 200 feet of each other. It encrypts private messages and also allows public texts to be sent out to communities.

Twitter via SMS

Twitter recently shut down its tweet via SMS feature in most parts of the world, but India seems to be among the countries where it is still available. Of course, this will only work as long as your regular cellular networks are working. Twitter via SMS was used by many journalists in the early days of the platform to cover an event live.

Briar

This app syncs using the TOR (The Onion Router), which is an open source software meant to allow users to avoid common surveillance techniques. That part though will only work when the Internet is active. Otherwise, the app can use Bluetooth and WiFi to allow communication among persons.

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