Zello keeps people in the loop during South Africa’s unrest


Gosai, also from Durban, was among the 180,000 people who took down Zello after Zuma’s arrest. Users subscribe to channels to talk to each other and send live audio files that can be accessed by anyone listening to the channel.

Zello was originally designed to help people communicate and organize after natural disasters. With a Wi-Fi or data connection, people can use it to broadcast their location, share tips, and communicate with rescuers or survivors after a hurricane, flood, or other emergency. in the USA, Zello attracted attention in 2017‘s Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. According to Raphael Varieras, Zello’s vice president of operations, the app is also used by taxi drivers, ambulance workers and delivery personnel who want to send hands-free voice messages. Because Zello is a voice platform, it is faster than typing and requires no literacy skills.

But recent events show that the use of Zello is increasingly being used to connect people in areas of unrest as well. For example, within hours of the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict, downloads skyrocketed to 100 times their usual rate. Also, Cuba has seen a surge in downloads amid food and drug shortage protests. Not surprisingly, this development has prompted some countries, including China, Venezuela, and Syria, to ban the practice.

Without a formal emergency response system like the US’s 911, South Africans are increasingly turning to Zello to coordinate temporary ambulances and neighborhood patrols. One channel, South Africa Community Action Network, has 11,600 members who donate for emergency services like ambulances and more than 33,000 non-paying members. blog post on site.


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