FireChat will provide French Polynesian citizens with free resilient communications independently of traditional networks
Open Garden announced today a partnership with the City of Arue, the Minister of Digital Strategy and Smart Tahiti Networks (STN) to deploy a island-wide 'mesh' network that works independently of cell networks and Internet connections. Open Garden is the creator of FireChat, the first mobile app that works without access to the Internet or cell networks.
Citizens of French Polynesia can now communicate with each other for free, using just their phones and without the need for a data plan or an Internet connection. They can send encrypted private messages or public messages visible by all the members of the community in real time. By connecting the phones directly with one another through peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, FireChat enables people to create their own network, a "People's Network."
Philip Schyle, Mayor of Arue, said, "I'm thrilled that Arue is the one of the first cities in the world to create a free network for citizens to communicate every day. And with the risk that a hurricane reaches our island this year, we will benefit from a resilient communications network in the event that traditional cellular networks are congested or impaired."
Thierry Lehartel, CEO of Smart Tahiti Networks, said, "We're working to make communications easier, more reliable and cheaper in French Polynesia. We believe that FireChat is a innovative solution that contributes to our goals."
Teva Rohfritsch, Minister of Digital Strategy, said, "We fully support this initiative and encourage everyone involved in the growth of our Polynesian digital ecosystem to build similar partnerships. We look forward to seeing how the citizens of French Polynesia embrace and use this new technology. The ability to share early warning messages in real time across the islands is very useful for our country, especially during this period of hurricane watch. I'm sure this app will deliver many other benefits, but that's what we're the most interested in, at the level of the government."
The project was presented to the Chief of Staff and the department heads of the Defense and Public Safety of the Haut-commissariat of French Polynesia, who expressed their interest for the initiative especially in crisis situations.
"We are very grateful for the opportunity to work on the Smart Tahiti project spearheaded by STN and with the City of Arue," said Christophe Daligault, CMO of Open Garden. "Our technology alleviates the dependency on traditional infrastructure and enables communities to create their own free communication networks that are disaster-proof."