Last weekend in several cities around the globe, over 600 telephony application developers gathered for TADHack, the first global telephony application hackathon. Before we get into recapping the event, a quick tutorial on how to properly pronounce a word that many, many people struggle with…
Telephony te·LE·pho·ny tə-ˈle-fə-nē listen
So, now that we all know how to pronounce it correctly, what exactly is telephony and why is it important to the humanitarian space?
Telephony is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone. (Source: Wikipedia)
The need for communication in humanitarian efforts is quite obvious, and getting basic communications infrastructure back up after a catastrophic event is always a top priority for first responders. In addition, allowing low income and remote locations access to communications can rapidly increase quality of life and allow access to critical information and services otherwise impractical to reach.
In recent years, low-cost Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) have allowed more and more remote communities gain access to basic telephony services to make cellular phone calls and send/receive SMS messages. GWOB has had some experience with deploying OpenBTS at Burning Man and combining it with a telephony API like Tropo to build simple custom applications such as group texting and voicemail.
Last week at the TADHack Hackathon in Madrid, team Fairwaves from Moscow combined powers with Tropo to build FairShare Community Mobile. Fairwaves has an open source telecom platform and base station that can be deployed just about anywhere to give local cell phone access. Many times these are deployed in remote villages with systems that can only support a limited number of simultaneous calls.
This is where FairShare Community Mobile comes in. Check out the team’s winning presentation video and slides: