Ayuda Después del Huracán María

By Nayeli on September 22, 2017

Zello te puede ayudar a comunicarte con tus familiares y amigos o encontrar información acerca de la situación en diferentes zonas en Puerto Rico por medio de varios canales disponibles en la aplicación. Recuerda que Zello necesita una red de Internet para funcionar y muchas de las torres en Puerto Rico fueron dañadas durante el huracán. Los canales más activos relacionados con Puerto Rico son:

Si no tienes Zello instalado:

  1. Descarga Zello por medio del Appstore o Play Store y haz clic en “no tengo una cuenta de Zello” o “nueva cuenta de Zello” y sigue los pasos para crear tu cuenta.
  2. Agrega uno de los canales recomendados para tratar de aprender más sobre la situación en Puerto Rico.
  3. Lee los consejos que Zello ofrece para ocasiones de desastre aquí.

La recomendación para saber más de amigos y familiares en Puerto Rico, fuera de Zello son:

  • Contactar a la Administración de Asuntos Federales de Puerto Rico al número 202-778-0710.
  • FEMA recomienda llamar a este número 800-621-3362, y para inscribirte para más ayuda llama TTY: 800-462-7585.
  • Las escuelas publicas son ahora refugios. El estadio San Juan Roberto Clemente es el refugio más grande en la capital.
  • La Cruz Roja Americana recomienda llamar al 1-800-733-2767 para buscar a amigos o familiares con condiciones pre-existentes de salid o condiciones de enfermedades mentales.

Si tienes más preguntas de cómo usar Zello por favor déjanos saber en la sección de comentarios.

Tips on Zello Communications During a Disaster

By Alexey Gavrilov on September 6, 2017

DISCLAIMER: This information is a guide for Zello users. It is not intended as a replacement for instructions from government emergency agencies or sanctioned rescue organizations. Please use at your own risk and discretion.

We have seen a large number of people signing up for Zello in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Over 1 million people have joined in the last day, with most coming from Puerto Rico and Florida. While Zello has been helpful in Harvey relief efforts, it is not a hurricane rescue tool and is only as useful as the people who use it, and as reliable as the data network available. This information will help you understand what Zello can and cannot do, and how to be better prepared.

During and after a disaster:

  1. If there is no WiFi and no cellular data service, communication apps (including Zello) won’t work. However, this may not be an issue because, historically, mobile data networks have often remained at least partially operational, even after a severe disaster. Cellular towers include battery or generator backup power, which lets them stay online for at least 2 hours, even after grid power is lost.
  2. After a disaster, mobile networks will typically be overloaded with phone calls so don’t make phone calls unless you have an emergency and need to call 911. This will not only allow emergency calls to go through better, but will also extend the lifespan of mobile towers running on backup power.
  3. Text messaging apps and Zello use a fraction of bandwidth of phone calls and will often work when phone calls won’t get through.
  4. Zello is suitable for real-time, large-group communications. Unlike texting, it may be more accessible to elderly people or small kids
  5. When actively used, Zello will use a lot of battery. You can do the following to minimize battery drain:
    1. Keep your phone fully charged and have an external battery pack
    2. Turn phone screen off while listening unless you are connected to a power source — that will extend battery life of the phone by at least 2x
    3. If your phone battery is under 30%, turn off Zello. That way, it won’t use any power, and if someone sends you a message, you will still receive a push notification.
  6. Different carriers use different networks and equipment, so it is best to have SIM cards from all the providers offering cell coverage in your area. For example, if you are using Verizon as your primary line, get a T-Mobile SIM card as a backup. Zello runs on all carriers
  7. 2G/3G and 4G networks, even from the same operator, may use different equipment. So if you cannot connect when using 4G, try switching to 2G or 3G, and it may start working. Zello is designed to work with the lowest bandwidth available and has been tested on 2G networks.

Before a disaster:

  1. Obey all evacuation orders! If you are in Florida, consider taking a few days off and visiting relatives. The best disaster communication is the one that never has to happen.
  2. Use Zello channels to coordinate group efforts of getting supplies, gas, preparing house for the wind and rain. That way, you will get familiar with how Zello works. Instructions for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry can be found in our User Guides
  3. Find and connect to the local search and rescue channels on Zello or, if there is none, make your own.
  4. Memorize your username and password. If your phone is damaged or battery is dead, you can install Zello on another device and re-connect with your contacts and channels.
  5. Write down important phone numbers on a piece of cardboard and place in a waterproof baggie. If your phone goes dead, you can give this to rescuers in order to contact your family and friends and inform them that you are fine.

Stay safe!

Consejos de comunicación con Zello en un desastre

Hemos visto un gran número de personas registrándose a Zello en preparación para el Huracán Irma con más 1M de personas uniéndose durante el último día, la mayoría de Puerto Rico y Florida. Mientras que Zello ha sido útil en los esfuerzos de ayuda de Harvey, no es una herramienta de recate en huracanes y solo será tan útil como las personas lo usen y tan confiable como sus redes de datos. Esta lista debe ayudarte a entender mejor lo que Zello puede y no puede hacer para que estés mejor preparado.

Durante y después del desastre

  1. Si no hay WiFi ni servicio de datos telefónico, las aplicaciones de comunicación incluyendo Zello no funcionarán. Sin embargo, en el pasado, las redes de datos móviles usualmente han permanecido parcialmente operacionales, al menos, incluso después de un desastre severo. Las torres de telefonía móvil incluyen baterías o generadores de energía de refuerzo, lo que les permite mantenerse en línea al menos por 2 horas incluso después de perder red eléctrica.
  2. Después del desastre, las redes telefónicas normalmente van a estar sobrecargadas con llamadas telefónicas así que no uses tu teléfono a menos que tengas una emergencia y necesites llamar al 911. De esta manera permitirás que las llamadas de emergencia pasen más fácilmente y se extienda la vida de las torres de telefonía móvil que están funcionando con energía de refuerzo.
  3. Aplicaciones de mensajería de texto y Zello usan una fracción del ancho de banda de llamadas de teléfono y usualmente funcionan cuando las llamadas telefónicas no están pasando.
  4. Zello es adecuado para la comunicación en tiempo real de grupos grandes y a diferencia de los mensajes de texto, es accesible para personas mayores y niños pequeños (nunca los dejes solos en un desastre!)
  5. Cuando se usa activamente, Zello usa mucha batería, así que:
    1. Mantén tu teléfono completamente cargado y ten un paquete de batería externa.
    2. Apaga la pantalla del teléfono mientras estés escuchando a menos de que estés conectado a energía — esto prolongará la vida de la batería del teléfono por lo menos 2 veces.
    3. Si tu teléfono está por debajo de 30%, apaga Zello. De esta manera no usará nada de batería y si alguien te envía un mensaje, recibirás una notificación automática.
  1. Diferentes operadores usan diferentes redes y equipos así que es mejor tener tarjetas SIM de todos los operadores que ofrecen cobertura telefónica en tu área. Por ejemplo, si estás usando Verizon como tu línea principal, obtén una SIM de T-Mobile como refuerzo.
  2. Redes 2G/3G y 4G, incluso del mismo operador, usan equipos diferentes. Así que si no puedes conectarte usando 4G, intenta cambiándote a 2G o 3G y puede que empiece a funcionar. Zello está diseñado para funcionar con el ancho de banda más bajo disponible y está probado en 2G.

Antes de un desastre

  1. Obedece todas las órdenes de evacuación! Si estás en Florida, considera tomar unos días libres y visita parientes. La mejor comunicación de desastre es la que nunca tiene que ocurrir.
  2. Usa Zello para coordinar esfuerzos grupales tales como obtener suministros, gas, y preparar tu casa para el viento y la lluvia. De esta manera también te familiarizarás con cómo funciona la aplicación.
  3. Encuentra y conéctate a búsquedas locales y canales de rescate en Zello. Si no hay ninguno, considera crear tu propio canal.
  4. Memoriza tu numbre de usuario y contraseña. De esta manera si tu teléfono se daña o se acaba tu batería, podrás instalar Zello en otro dispositivo y reconectarte con tus contactos.
  5. Escribe números de teléfono importantes en un pedazo de cartón — así tu teléfono no esté funcionando puede que necesites dárselos a rescatistas para contactar a tu familia y amigos e informarles que estás bien.

Mantente a salvo!

Getting help in Houston floods

By Alexey Gavrilov on August 28, 2017

Update 09/04: If you used Zello during Harvey please take a moment to give us feedback, which would help making Zello better.

If you or someone you know needs to be rescued in the Houston area please use the following resources:

Phone numbers:

  • 911
  • 281-464-4851  (US Coast Guard — 5 lines below)
  • 281-464-4852
  • 281-464-4853
  • 281-464-4854
  • 281-464-4855
  • 318-224-2984 (Cajun Navy Relief dispatch text + voicemail) — request help directly from Cajun Navy volunteers

Zello channels (get the app to connect):

When submitting your request for the rescue clearly state:

  • The complete address of the rescue location, and any information which would help rescuers finding you
  • Contact phone number and your name
  • Number of people needing help and their condition

Zello channels are experiencing high traffic so the easiest way to get your information through is to write it down and send a picture to the channel.

Did You Know Zello Can Be Used with Hearing Aids?

By Nancy on May 30, 2017

Frankly, we never did until one industrious 16-year-old came across our radar last March. Zello has always strived to be fully blind-accessible, and we have many users who are visually impaired and use Zello with VoiceOver. Our Support team often helps visually impaired users, but when Linn Ayers contacted Support in March, she was wondering how to use Zello with her son’s hearing aid. We had no experience with hearing aids and didn’t know how to answer her question. We asked for more information to try to help but, luckily for us, her son Bryan had already figured it out. That’s when we first heard of this amazing young man’s story, and we wanted to share it so that others could benefit.

Bryan’s story began 16 years ago when he was born in Mobile, Alabama. He and his twin, Andrew, were the pride and joy of their parents, Linn and David Ayers. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until around age 2, when Andrew started talking but Bryan did not. Bryan seemed to ignore his parents and did not respond to verbal cues like Andrew did. After seeing multiple doctors and specialists, Bryan was diagnosed as being severely hearing impaired. Bryan was immediately fitted with hearing aids and started regular speech therapy. Today, as a result of this early intervention, Bryan’s hearing impairment is not readily apparent to most people. Bryan speaks normally, and his hearing is near-normal with the help of some pretty high-tech hearing aids.

The hearing aid Bryan uses is the model Oticon OPN2, a small over-the-ear model which uses Bluetooth technology to pair to his iPhone 5. Using a special app with the hearing aid, Bryan can listen to music or other audio. He can also use Zello, which is something we were not aware of. After pairing the hearing aid to his phone, Bryan could install Zello and then simply pick the hearing aid as the remote device to use from the Zello app. By using Zello with the hearing aid, Bryan can talk and listen to others remotely while also listening to his surroundings – this was crucial to his volunteering efforts at the SouthSounds Music Festival held in Mobile last April.

David Ayers had been involved in music festivals for years. This year, Bryan volunteered to help out backstage, alongside his dad. Other volunteers on the loading team were already using Zello for communications. They could use an earpiece in one ear for Zello and hear their surroundings with the other ear. This would not work for Bryan, as he needed the hearing aid to hear his surroundings.

The crew suggested Bryan try Zello out and see if it was compatible with his hearing aid. Fortunately, the Oticon hearing aid and Zello worked perfectly together. Bryan could talk and listen to fellow team mates while still hearing what was going on around him. Bryan’s dad was so impressed, he started to get his colleagues at work to use Zello. Here’s a shot of Bryan working backstage with Zello:

Bryan is a very busy young man and nothing slows him down. He continues to excel at school, has an engineering internship, and participates in a number of extra-curricular activities where perfect hearing is usually a prerequisite. He is in the high school jazz band and is also the drummer in a 4-piece rock band named Stereo Dogs. The band plays gigs around Mobile and has a new music video and CD available on their website. Check them out and support this very talented group of teens!

In addition to supporting the Opticon hearing aid, Zello has tested and certified many accessories for high-noise and hands-free use. We are constantly adding vendors and devices to this list. If you would like to suggest an accessory to add, please contact us at sales@zello.com, or if you are developing an accessory to run with Zello, read our guidelines here.

Russia Blocks Zello

By Nancy on April 13, 2017

This evening, Russia blocked Zello. This action follows a notice we received last week from the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor that Zello is not in compliance with a law that governs information distribution brokers (Article 10.1 of the Federal Law of 27.07.2006 number 149-FZ).

“Information distribution broker” is how the Russian law describes Internet communications services and includes messenger apps, email providers, and social networks. The law requires that all such services store all application messages and user data in Russia. We would be required to provide this data to law enforcement upon their request. We would also provide law enforcement with the means of surveillance on Zello conversations globally and would have to share all Zello encryption keys with FSB, the Russian state security organization.

These are requirements that we are not able to meet or willing to comply with, even if we could.

Zello is popular in Russia, with more than 400,000 active users there. Like Zello users everywhere, Russians use the app to connect with family members and friends and to participate in social, political, and humanitarian conversations and events. But it is also used by search and rescue personnel, taxi services, law enforcement, and drivers needing assistance.

No other global service would be willing to meet this Roskomnadzor law. We cannot speculate why the Russian government is blocking their citizens’ communication through Zello.

Besides Zello, the only other major service known to be blocked is LinkedIn, which also refused to comply with the Roskomnadzor and has been blocked in Russia since November 2016.

Zello Channels are a powerful feature of the app which makes it easy to create groups for public or private conversations. Large numbers of Zello users in Ukraine, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Turkey, and Egypt have relied on Zello to organize democratic political movements in their countries.

Russians who rely on Zello should use VPN solutions to continue using Zello. Zello is working on deploying technology to circumvent the block.

Bill Moore
CEO Zello

Related press coverage from the Roskomnadzor warning last week:
https://globalvoices.org/2017/04/10/russia-blocks-walkie-talkie-app-zello-as-truckers-strike/
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela/roskomnadzor-blocked-zello-app-used-by-striking-truckers/

Story about trucker strike with Zello mention
https://therussianreader.com/tag/zello-walkie-talkie-app/

News from Venezuelan block of Zello
News from Ukraine use of Zello

The Cajun Navy: How Tech and Boaters Joined Forces to Save Lives

By Nancy on October 10, 2016

cajunnavypic

You might not have heard, but last August 2016, the biggest flood to hit Louisiana in 500 years happened. More than 30,000 people were evacuated and over 146,000 homes damaged. Unlike well-known Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it didn’t have a name, and the rescue and recovery efforts were better orchestrated. So it just wasn’t deemed as newsworthy.

Consequently, little was publicized about the rescue efforts of a small ragtag band of boaters known as the “Cajun Navy.” But their story deserves to be told. It’s a story about regular folks doing extraordinary things, using a little tech and a lot of determination.

The original Cajun Navy was born out of necessity during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Plagued by government red tape and delayed rescue efforts during Katrina, a small group of locals with boats got together and pitched in to do whatever they could. They became local heroes known as The Cajun Navy, as they picked up residents trapped by flood waters, put them on their boats, and transported them to safety.

The namesake group was called into action again this past August 12th, when flooding began in Livingston Parish – the hardest hit area. The amount of water rose so quickly, that it caught many residents off guard. Unable to prepare and evacuate in time, many found themselves stranded in their homes or on their rooftops.

Initial frantic calls for help came across on Facebook posts. AT&T cell towers were knocked out, making phone calls impossible. Many people in neighboring unaffected parishes saw these pleas and wanted to do something to help. They didn’t want to sit idle or wait for the government to come and rescue these people. It was at this point that a new, stronger, and more organized Cajun Navy really sprang into action.

Realizing there needed to be a central point of command to coordinate rescue efforts, stay-at-home mom and local Good Samaritan, Alaina Hebert, took it upon herself to head rescue efforts. A brand-new Facebook group for rescue efforts was created, asking for volunteers to join, especially those with boats and other equipment. The group eventually grew to over 23,000 members from all parts of the U.S. With a huge base of volunteers ready and able to help out, the Cajun Navy was now ready to take on the daunting task of coordinating water rescues.

As the flooding progressed, Parish Sheriff offices quickly became inundated with calls for help. With a backlog of over over 150 unanswered calls, Parish officials welcomed the offer of help from the Cajun Navy to handle some of the overflow. Cajun Navy volunteers immediately stepped in to help, going where needed with Sheriff Deputies onboard using their flotilla of fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks.

In the end, the Cajun Navy, with their band of 100-200 amateur and professional boaters, managed to save thousands of stranded residents and pets. The entire rescue effort was coordinated using two free apps: Zello as a live walkie-talkie dispatch and Glympse as a GPS locator. It was the first time apps had been used in this way – the technology did not exist during Hurricane Katrina.

Shawn Boudreaux, VP of the Cajun Navy and self-described “closet nerd” introduced the technology to the group. An avid player of Ingress (a location-based mobile app game), he used Zello to communicate with fellow team members during Ingress events. Shawn knew Zello could be a great tool for dispatchers to coordinate the hundreds of boats scattered throughout flooded areas. With the support of now Cajun Navy President, Alaina Hebert, he put the apps in motion by asking for volunteers on Facebook to come and install Zello and Glympse on their devices before going out on water rescues.

Shawn created a private Zello channel called “CajunNavy” for the volunteer dispatchers and boaters to communicate with each other. At the peak of the crisis, the channel had over 800 members or subscribers. All 800 could be online and active at the same time (the limit is 2000). As calls for help came in, they were transmitted live on the channel. By using Glympse and Google Maps for GPS coordinates, the closest boats could then be dispatched to help. The process resulted in more efficient and timely rescues.

A sister group named the “Cajun Army” also used Zello to coordinate post-flood efforts, providing food and shelter and dispatching volunteers to help clean-up damaged homes.

cajunarmypic

Though flood waters have since receded, the Cajun Navy and Cajun Army continues to help their neighbors rebuild their homes and lives. This is all done without monetary donations or government aid. If you would like to help out or just thank them, please join their Facebook groups and Zello channel by using the links below.

Cajun Navy Facebook Page
Cajun Army Facebook Page
Cajun Navy Zello Channel

If you have a similar story of how you used Zello to help your community, please contact us at info@zello.com. We’d love to hear about it!

Zello Works Where Traditional Radios Fail

By Nancy on April 22, 2016

Last week, we got a very nice note from a member of the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Cave and Technical Rescue Team (caverescue.net, sbsar.org). He explained how Zello was used in a recent search and rescue (SAR) mission. They were looking for possible human remains located in a mine shaft about 400 feet deep. When they lowered a person with a VHF radio down the shaft to investigate, the team on top realized they could not communicate with the person down in the shaft. The opening was too small relative to the wavelength of the radios, and their VHF radios were useless in that environment.

Since the team knew Zello worked with WiFi, and they had already established a WiFi hotspot on top, the team decided to try a little experiment. They decided to try Zello instead. They were surprised to find that it worked flawlessly! By lowering the person with a smartphone and Zello installed, he was able to maintain communication with the entire team.

“Amazingly we were able to maintain contact to about the 350 foot level. I was astonished! This is not an RF-friendly environment.”

We love hearing stories like this from our users. If you’ve had a similar experience where Zello saved the day when radios failed, drop us a line! Here are a couple pictures of that SAR mission:

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Team at top of mine shaft

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Going down with Zello onboard