Thursday, August 12, 2004

Cell Phones as Coordination Tools

Wired News: Text Messages for Critical Masses:

Known as TxtMob, the new service from the Institute for Applied Autonomy was unveiled last month at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. There, TxtMob allowed more than 260 subscribers to automatically blast text messages to the mobile phones of every other subscriber.

'There were ... a number of interesting uses that the system got put to" at the DNC, said John Henry, TxtMob's developer. "Police did arrest one protester, and there were not a lot of people around. Someone saw it happen, (sent a TxtMob message), and a hundred of that kid's friends were on the scene in minutes ... to make sure' the police acted correctly.

Henry said TxtMob was also widely deployed at the DNC by medic groups that used the service to ensure they had personnel in the right places at the right time in case of problems.

And because of concerns that police at the convention would run roughshod over them, some protesters found that TxtMob was useful for keeping each other apprised of police movements.