Software enables mobiles to communicate during a disaster

Software developed by Flinders University’s Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen that enables mobile phones to communicate during a disaster will be freely available to the public by the end of the year thanks to the support of the Dutch NLnet Foundation.

The Serval BatPhone software can be used on compatible mobile phone handsets to create an alternative ‘network’ where conventional mobile phone coverage has been destroyed or simply does not exist.

Instead of relying on mobile phone towers, the Serval system relays calls from one mobile phone to another as either a ‘closed’ network or to connect to a temporary tower.

Gardner-Stephen, a research fellow in the Flinders School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, said NLnet’s contribution of about $40,000 (£24,000) will be a significant boost for his Serval Project team.

‘NLnet’s support will go towards project management and senior developer resources to more effectively manage the team’s co-ordinated efforts,’ he said. ‘It’s a significant step towards our goal of making Serval BatPhone freely available in a first public release later this year.’