KZN residents turn to little known app, Zello to protect themselves from looters
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Durban - Residents in KwaZulu-Natal who have barricaded their communities and have set up neighbourhood watches and patrols to protect themselves from looters have turned to Zello, a walkie-talkie app to communicate with each other and co-ordinate their efforts.
The app - which has been has been used in similar circumstances in Venezuela and Turkey - has been the go to app for communities under siege in Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Unlike messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, Zello, which uses data or wifi mimics a walkie-talkie which can connect up to 6000 people one a “channel”.
Communities battling rioters have created channels which in most instances needs a code to enter - to prevent outsiders from listening in - where they communicate in real time by pressing down a talk button.
And unlike other messaging apps which one needs to open to see or listen to a message, Zello allows constant real time chatter similar to a walkie-talkie.
This is especially useful for neighbourhood “command centres” and people patrolling in cars as one does not need to look at or open their phones to hear messages.
This app which was hardly known a week ago has seen a surge in downloads since the looting and rioting began in the days following former president Jacob Zuma being imprisoned for contempt of court.
While statistics on how many times the app was downloaded in South Africa in the past week was not available, the app has, according to the company, been downloaded over 150 million times world-wide.
According to Wikipedia Zello first rose to prominence in June 2013 when Turkish protesters used it to circumvent government censors.As a result, Zello was the top most downloaded application in Turkey during the first week of June 2013.
The app has also been used by anti government protesters in Venezuela and has been used in by volunteers searching and rescuing people caught up in natural disasters.