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“Mobile telephony for those in need.”
The Serval Project is a small team of academics, contracted engineers and students in the Resilient Networks Lab of Flinders University in South Australia, developing revolutionary, free, open-source software for mobile telephones. It was founded by Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen and Romana Challans in 2010 in response to the Haiti Earthquake, and has received funding and equipment from several supporters. The intellectual property in the Serval Project is held by Serval Project Incorporated.
The Serval Project aims to bring infrastructure-free mobile communication to people in need, such as during crisis and disaster situations when vulnerable infrastructure like phone cell towers and mains electricity are cut off. In practice, this means finding ways to make mobile handsets (like smart-phones) communicate without mobile cell towers, repeaters, Wi-Fi hot spots, or cables.
The main focus to date has been on developing the free Serval Mesh (app for Android) to provide voice calls, text messaging and file sharing directly over Wi-Fi links between phones. The app communicates with distant phones via intermediate phones using mesh routing, and uses strong elliptic curve encryption to guarantee privacy and identity even though some phones in the mesh network may not be trusted.
The Serval Project is developing the Serval Mesh Extender device to overcome the range limitations of Wi-Fi on smart-phones and to extend Serval Mesh services to handsets other than just Android devices. This will allow more kinds of smart-phones to participate in the Serval Mesh.
The Serval Project also develops the free Serval Maps (app for Android) which uses Serval Mesh file sharing to provide decentralised mapping. This is a useful situational awareness tool for emergency response teams.
See Activity for more information about all the work and initiatives under way at The Serval Project.
The Serval Project hopes for its mesh network technology to become the de-facto data transport and community telecommunication solution for remote and disadvantaged communities, international aid and emergency relief agencies, citizen journalists, small and medium enterprises, and hacker and maker communities.
The Serval Project's long term technical goals are set out in the Technology Roadmap, under the “Not started” column.