A practical and secure social media facility for internet-deprived populations

Jeremy Lakeman, Matthew Lloyd, Romana Challans, Angus Wallace, Paul Gardner-Stephen, Milan Stute, Matthias Hollick

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Social Media plays an increasingly important role in humanitarian and disaster response scenarios. However, typical social media applications rely on internet connectivity, and as a result are often not available during the acute phase of disasters. The MeshMS service of the Serval Mesh established the practicality of implementing a secure and private SMS-like textmessaging facility that can be used in internet-disconnected and infrastructure-deprived environments. In this paper, we describe a generalization of the MeshMS protocol and enhancements to the Serval Mesh Software, that provide an authenticated social media platform, that can be used in the complete absence of internet access or supporting infrastructure, both for use by private citizens to communicate with their peers, as well as for governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and other relevant organizations to easily distribute important information to, and receive feedback from, affected populations. A particular advantage of this system is that one-way transports, such as low-cost satellite broadcast receivers, can be used to cheaply and efficiently provide affected populations with near real-time access to critical information, including during the acute phase of a disaster. The necessary changes to the Serval Mesh software and protocols are described, followed by a demonstration of the resulting platform.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017
Event2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) - San Jose, United States
Duration: 19 Oct 201722 Oct 2017


Conference2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Abbreviated titleGHTC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


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