The Serval Project
Freedom of Communication - Anytime and Anywhere
Anyone interested in connectivity and communications during natural disasters needs to know about the Serval Project. Anyone concerned with keeping the mobile phone network running during periods of civil unrest needs to know about the Serval Project. It gives regular people, with regular mobile phones, the power to stay in touch with the outside world using mesh networking. What does this mean? It means that mesh enabled phones continue to function for voice and SMS comms when the area's cell towers are out of service!
Mesh Networking for Mobile Phones
A key component of the Serval Project is its Android based mesh networking software. Software is available on the Android Market which enables mobile phones to form self organizing peer-to-peer networks with gateways to the internet when available. The phones can make free calls to other mesh enabled phones using their regular numbers and without using minutes on the regular infrastructure network. If the caller or recipient is subject to authoritarian control as in Syria, China, or elsewhere, the phone continues to function when the cell towers are disabled or the participants' accounts are disabled. Bashar Assad, Kim Jung Un, and the other punks can "choke on the big one" when their citizens have decentralized robust communications with each other and the world.
Serval Mesh Telephony does not yet have an encryption layer. You must use other means to protect sensitive content!
The Serval mesh software also includes a store-and-forward feature, called Rhizome. Rhizome enables one to send files (pictures, audio, video, documents, etc) to other nearby phones, which will hold the data and wait for other phones with Serval to pick up the data and carry it onward. The process repeats on any available network nodes until the message or files reach their destination. Test messages have successfully been sent between Australia and Soth Africa - so the capability is indeed global.
Batphone: DIY Area Coverage Without Official Infrastructure
How about a phone network that serves small groups of people in remote areas, or nomadic people who do not stay long in one area? Often they are overlooked by the phone companies and governments and suffer from poor connectivity, but the Serval Bat Phone concept is a very workable remedy. In essence, one or more Serval Mesh enabled phones are set up as nodes to allow other users to communicate with each other. Yes - put a couple of batphones on buildings, trees, or cliffs and you cover the area for service between other people in the mesh. Give a batphone an internet connection and it becomes a gateway to the world.
To gain a deeper understanding of the freedoms and safety benefits provided by the Serval project, have a look at the documents provided in the following table. They also need testers, developers, and users to advance and refine the software. So read, understand, and get involved!
|Detailed Introduction To Serval|
|Directly Downloading Serval Software|
|Serval User's Manual v0.05|
A discussion and demonstration of Serval Mesh Networking, SMS, and the Batphone.