One of the biggest challenges of the protests last weekend was communication. Network coverage was down, mobile Internet was completely down and SMSes and calls weren’t going through (We broke Alfa and Touch’s network with our numbers). This, was obviously an obstacle that needed to be addressed for the next demonstration, to make sure urgent messages and important updates are available to everyone with an Android or iOS device in the square.
That’s why, this is a post to help introduce you to FireChat.
What Is Firechat
Firechat allows you to chat off-the-grid to people close by. It uses your smartphone’s radio signals (bluetooth) to communicate with nearby devices. If more than two devices are on Firechat, it creates a larger network allowing everyone’s public messages to travel through a larger area (past the 70 meter maximum with bluetooth from one device to another. (read more about it on their website)
How To Download and Prepare for Saturday
- Go here if you use an Android device, and here if you use an iOS one, or just go to Firech.at.
- We highly recommend you use your Twitter handles as usernames, to add credibility to your messages and make it easier to migrate onto online social networks when connectivity is back
- When you get to Martyr’s Square on Saturday, make sure you turn on your bluetooth and WiFi, even if it’s not connected to a network.
- Select the “Nearby” option when you are in the demonstration, so you can see and message everyone with FireChat around you
- We will have a lot of people with FireChat spread out across the square, with the line reaching areas where coverage is still working, and ensure that updates and photos get online live, without delay, straight from the square.
Here’s a video which I also highly recommend you watch
I’m @GinoRaidy, and I look forward to all of us working together to make sure we can communicate despite the coverage blackout we are expecting. Special thanks my dear friend Mohamad Najem (SMEX) for helping me understand what FireChat is and how we can use it, check out his version in Arabic here.