Contxto – For the past couple of weeks, Hong Kong has experienced some massive anti-government protests.
Sources report that these demonstrations arose based on society’s demand to revoke the Law of Extradition. Passed by Carrie Lam’s administration, the policy requires Hong Kong residents to go to mainland China to face trial.
Bear with me, I know the relation to Latin America might not be immediately evident, but there is a connection. And it is a pretty interesting one.
Imagine over two million people pausing their day-to-day life to mobilize and push back these public policies. Considering that Hong Kong’s population hovers around 7 million, that’s more than 20 percent of the entire country gathering on the streets.
Keeping this in mind, Bridgefy has been a star player in these recent developments. This startup allows users to leverage mesh networks via smartphone’s Bluetooth and WiFi antennas to access the internet. The only difference is that users don’t need to use data or direct WiFi signals. Basically, offline internet.
Over the course of only eight days, Hong Kong activists downloaded the app around 70,000 times to communicate among one another. This was mainly due to the saturation of traditional carrier networks. Add that on top of the scarcity of products providing offline communication solutions.
Use cases for offline communication vary, but this isn’t the first time that Bridgefy has seen a surge of downloads. What’s more impressive, though, is the fact that the company didn’t even need to invest in marketing efforts to promote its platform. The market spoke for itself, that’s the power of word of mouth.
A few years ago during Hurricane Irma and Hurrican Harvey, much of the Caribbean lost all power connection, preventing countless people from keeping in touch with their loved ones. Many found solutions over Bridgefy.
Previously, the startup even collaborated with SkyAlert to provide coverage in Mexico post-earthquake or tremors. The majority of downloads have come from Mexico City for this very reason.
“Most of our downloads came with the earthquake of September 2017, just as we obtained a few thousand more after the recent earthquakes in February 2018,” said Jorge Ríos, co-founder of Bridgefy.
Although U.S.-based, the startup is of Mexican descent. It currently has office spaces in San Francisco, Monterrey and Mexico City. Founded in 2015, the app is available both as a messaging app itself and as an API that can be used by third-party platforms enabling their offline functionality.