Phone software allows emergency workers to send important info across long distances

Being able to connect to the Internet has become an integral part of the way we communicate. But what do rescue workers do when the grid is down? A new app allows emergency workers to contact one another even when the connection is faulty: FireChat Alerts, developed by California-based tech company Open Garden.

Through peer-to-peer networking (also known as mesh networking), messages can be pushed as alerts. The phones are linked via Bluetooth or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, each acting as a node to relay messages across the network. It then stores them and forwards them to other users in the same area, typically around 200 feet in urban areas, in order to keep people informed and safe in the immediate area. Its previous incarnation, FireChat, worked in much the same way and gain popularity at music festivals, helping people stay in contact in spite of heavy crowds or long distances.

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