Gosai, also from Durban, was one of 180,000 people who downloaded Zello after Zuma was arrested. Users subscribe to channels to talk to each other, send real-time audio files, and anyone listening on the channel can access these files.
Zello was originally designed to help people communicate and organize after natural disasters. Through Wi-Fi or data connections, people can use it to broadcast their location, share reminders, and communicate with rescuers or survivors after hurricanes, floods, or other emergencies. In the U.S, Zello gained traction in 2017of Hurricane Harvey Rescue WorkRaphael Varieras, Zello’s vice president of operations, said that taxi drivers, ambulance staff, and delivery personnel who want to send hands-free voice messages also use the app. Because Zello is a voice-first platform, it is faster than typing and does not require literacy skills.
But recent events have shown that the use of Zello is also increasingly used to connect people in turbulent areas. For example, within a few hours of the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, downloads soared to 100 times the usual. In the protests against food and medicine shortages, Cuba’s downloads have also surged. Unsurprisingly, this development has prompted some countries to ban the app, including China, Venezuela and Syria.
Without a formal emergency system like the US 911, South Africans are increasingly turning to Zello to coordinate temporary ambulances and community patrols. One channel, the South African Community Action Network, has 11,600 paid members who donate to emergency services such as ambulances, and more than 33,000 non-paying members. Blog post On the website.