A smartphone app which has been on our radar screen for the past year is now available in Spanish with new features and to a whole new audience: undocumented immigrants who may need help before, during and after a raid from ICE. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
The app, called Cell 411 is a smartphone app available for both Android and iOS platforms; it allows users to organize themselves in regional “cells” or groups which are decentralized and managed by the users themselves. The cells can have as little as 2 members and as many as 1,000 members or more, allowing users who are in distress to alerts the rest of the cell of the nature of their problem and the exact location of where they need help. When sending out an alert, the users’s GPS coordinates are broadcast to their trusted friends and cell members with turn by turn direction to their location. This allows in essence for the crowd-sourcing of emergencies without the involvement of police, which are often not trusted by communities of immigrants and minorities.
The startup, Cell 411 Inc. was founded by Virgil Vaduva, who is an immigrant himself, after being arrested during an anti-police brutality protest after which he had no means to alert his family and friends of what happened and his whereabouts. The app was built as a decentralized means of helping communities and neighborhoods organize themselves to offer each other mutual aid in case of emergencies without asking for assistance from government, police and other state agencies.
You can also create private cells which are only visible to you an not other users, and you can add your friends to your private cells.
The app allows you to send emergency alerts about medical problems, police abuse, vehicle problems, crime, and other issues; the alerts are tagged with your exact GPS coordinates and your friends can get turn-by-turn directions to your location, should they decide to come and offer you help. You can stream live video to your cells and friends, and the video cannot be erased by a malicious user who may gain access to your phone. The video can also be streamed to YouTube and Facebook and is distributed instantly to all your friends, making it nearly impossible to be destroyed.
The app also has a ride-sharing feature available and real-time chat between cell members, allowing users to discuss how an event unfolds in real time in order to offer help as necessary. (Note: chat feature will be released on March 3)
Last year the company introduced a bluetooth panic button, which can be worn on a wrist, key-chain or a belt clip and allows users to send our an emergency alert much faster, without having to unlock or touch their smart phone.
Available in Spanish, English, German, Portuguese and Romanian, the app is free and does not carry any service cost associated with the use.
It can be downloaded from http://getcell411.com/download
The short video below describes how Cell 411 works and how it can help communities engage in mutual aid activities.
Another walkthrough video also goes into more details on how the app functions.