Austin, Texas based app, Zello is helping the Venezuelan opposition – not to mention ordinary citizens living there and in the U.S.— gain access to crucial information that, at times, can mean the difference between life and death.
Zello is a free “walkie talkie” push-to-talk voice messaging app for groups, communities, and businesses worldwide.
Zello has a long history of being used by groups around the world to communicate and coordinate simultaneously in times of emergency or natural disasters (we were the #1 app on iTunes when Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean), as well as during times of political strife and upheaval— particularly in countries with citizens living under authoritarian regimes.
Since Nicolas Maduro, the interim president of Venezuela took office in late January, there has been a 135% increase in downloads of the Zello app.
How Zello is saving lives in Venezuela is a featured interview with Maria, a Venezuelan native who lives in Miami and owns and operates the Zello channel Venezuela La Hasta los Tuetanos, which provides information about the political, social, economic, and humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
Since the current crisis began in Venezuela in late January, we have seen a surge in Zello usage there.
Zello has helped Venezuelan citizens to coordinate protests, mobilize marches, evade security sweeps by police, and build barricades. The app has also helped them to locate resources such as medicine and food, and to build strong relationships with one another using our channels.
Since the government controls the traditional news media, Venezuelans rely heavily on social media and anonymous, secure applications like Zello to exchange news with each other and to communicate with the outside world.
Using various Zello channels, Venezuelans can share uncensored news and real-time events. What’s more, since the Zello channels are cross-promoted through Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud podcasts, the international outreach and support have been immense.
Maria, the owner and operator of the Zello channel Venezuela La Hasta los Tuetanos, explains the appeal of the app this way: “Because of Zello we have been able to save lives by warning people about Maduro’s armed forces coming to attack during a specific manifestation. Because of Zello we have been able to.. find medicine for someone (who) was dying. Because of Zello we actually found a hearing aid for a deaf person who didn’t have money to get hers repaired… And because of Zello we have been able to send some food and toiletries to political prisoners in the Venezuelan jails.”
One of Zello’s greatest attractions for protestors is its ease of use and simplicity— essentially, it just lets people talk to each other through the Internet. Zello allows individuals to communicate to one another walkie-talkie style via a simple broadband connection.
The app interface looks a button on your phone. You press it to speak to people on a particular channel. The channels can be as small as two people or as big as hundreds of thousands.
The largest Zello channel in Venezuela has about 70,000 users/members.
For more information contact: Jeff Salzgeber – firstname.lastname@example.org – 512.743.2659