Wireless Mesh Network Apps

The Educational and Societal Potential of Mesh Networking

On September 2014, as Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters took over the streets, 6 months old FireChat app gained terrain. Despite the short lifetime of the app, the technology used to support it is not that young; mesh wireless networks have been around for more than 30 years. What are they? Why are they becoming popular now? How do they impact the mobilization of knowledge? Find out in this timeline.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

First the military

In the 80’s, US military funded research on implementing multi-hop mesh networks in the battlefield, but efforts were thwarted by the high costs.

1998-11-01 00:48:28

Early Academic Research

MIT worked on a project called Roofnet, aimed to create a self-organizing wireless network.

2005-02-01 00:00:00

The Green Machine Promise

Nicholas Negroponte, launched a project to provide affordable laptops to children in developing communities.

2006-07-01 22:16:38

IEEE 802.11s

A standard for mesh networks was developed aiming to enable rapid, extensible deployments and provide coverage in hard-to-wire areas.

2007-03-01 06:43:56

Mesh network for the XO laptop

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project deployed its first mesh network for XO beta machines in launch countries.

2007-09-26 03:04:19


The first free off-the-grid instant messaging application for numerous mobile phone platforms was launched in Toronto, Canada.

2007-09-26 03:04:19

Ceibal Project (Plan Ceibal)

Uruguay became the first non-pilot country to purchase a full order of OLPC (One Laptop per Child) computers.

2010-02-12 16:42:40

The Serval Project

The Serval Project was founded in Australia in response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.

2011-02-11 13:45:10

Open Garden

A peer-to-peer mobile Internet connection company was founded in San Francisco by Micha Benoliel, Stanislav Shalunov and Greg Hazel.

2011-10-03 14:47:02

Citizen-sourced journalism

The Center for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) implemented a mobile-based community news network in Nigeria.

2012-09-01 00:48:28

OLPC controversy

Is measuring Math results the best indicator to assess the impact that having a computer may have in Peruvian children living in isolated communities?

2014-03-01 13:45:10


Open Garden introduced FireChat for iPhones in March 2014, followed by a version for Android just a month later.

2014-03-27 15:35:06

Taiwan Sunflower Protest

Taiwanese activists in Taipei were the first using FireChat to coordinate protests.

2014-06-24 15:35:06

Iraqi militants

Iraqis followed the Taiwanese using FireChat, but his time they received a warning: the app do not protect their privacy.

2014-09-28 00:48:28

Hong Kong Occupy Central

Despite the fact that FireChat information is public, the app had more than 100 000 users during a weekend of protests in Hong Kong.

2014-10-13 22:16:38

What is next?

Could a DIY approach be the best way to take mesh networks to the next level?

Wireless Mesh Network Apps

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