Phone App Zello Aids Hurricane Irma Volunteers

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. on time / ɒn taɪm / (idiom) – at the right moment

    I’m relieved that the rescuers arrived right on time to save the drowning child.

  2. instantaneously / ˌɪn stənˈteɪ ni əs li / (adv) – in an instant

    Advanced technology allows people to send videos instantaneously.

  3. specifically / spɪˈsɪf ɪk li / (adv) – for an exact purpose or use

    The computer was designed specifically for engineers.

  4. flourish / ˈflɜr ɪʃ / (v) – to grow and become successful

    The technology industry flourished because of the high demand for new devices.

  5. impending / ɪmˈpɛn dɪŋ / (adj) – likely to happen soon

    Reports of the impending storm are all over the news.


Read the text below.

Zello, an app that works like a walkie-talkie, has aided rescue volunteers in the United States during Hurricane Irma.

The Cajun / ˈkeɪ dʒən / Navy, a US volunteer emergency response group that uses boats, was one of the active users of Zello during the rescue operations. An analyst said that voice apps like Zello are effective because they enable faster communication for larger groups of people, resulting in more people being rescued on time.

Zello lets users create groups or “channels,” which may have up to 1,000 members worldwide. The app allows messages to be sent and received instantaneously. It also lets channel members record a message with just a push of a button. All messages can then be sent to the group right away. Conversations in Zello may be replayed anytime. The app works only with an Internet connection, but it can be used on various devices such as iPhones, Android devices, Blackberries, Windows phones, and computers.

Because of Zello’s usefulness, the app has become the most downloaded application during Hurricane Irma. Before this, Zello has also been widely used during Hurricane Harvey. However, Zello’s creators pointed out that despite Zello’s help during calamities, the app is not developed to replace official means of communication during emergencies.

Meanwhile, several applications specifically developed for natural disasters and emergencies have flourished in recent years. One is Disaster Alert, which gives updates about impending storms, tsunamis, and other calamities. Another is SirenGPS Mobile, which allows 911 emergency responders to quickly locate a caller. A user’s community must be subscribed to the app, which will allow responders to receive information like location and medical history and provide appropriate medical assistance more quickly.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In what other situations can the Zello app be useful?
• Would you be interested in using the Zello app? Explain.

Discussion B

• What are the risks of relying heavily on technology during disasters?
• What alternatives can people use to communicate if no technology is available during an emergency? Discuss.

Category : Technology/Innovations