War and apps » Tech T100

IMAGE: Air Alarm app

At the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked Elon Musk the sending of Starlink satellite transmission equipment, to which Musk responded positively by communicating that shipment and subsequent ones, and the opening of satellite coverage in the country. A fundamental request for a Ukrainian government characterized by the presence not only of Fedorov himself, 31 years old and founder of a startup of digital marketing, but also of other profiles that are also young and well versed in the use of communication technologies.

As a result of the installation of these communications equipment, which as Musk himself warnedmust be carried out with multiple precautions to prevent them from becoming the target of attacks, the Starlink application that allows connection to these antennas to obtain coverage on mobile devices has become the apps downloaded from Ukraine, given the massive destruction of infrastructure and the obvious difficulty of achieving connectivity through other alternatives.

For someone like me, who belongs to a generation and a country that has never known a situation of armed conflict in its entire life, the idea of ​​being subjected overnight to a dynamic that forces the installation of new apps for something so related to survival it was very striking. In fact, the apps from Starlink has replaced another, Air Alarm Ukraine, in the lists of most downloaded applications in Ukraine, with which Ukrainians not only receive bombing alerts, but can also see the location of shelters on Google Maps and, in addition, connect with the security services, the defense ministry, the helpline and other organizations of interest.

Other popular applications in downloads in Ukraine at the moment are those related to news and alerts, instant messengers such as Signal and Telegram, the apps personal digital identification, apps video conferencing like Zoom or Google Meet, Google Translate and others, ranging from entertainment (books, games, etc.), to financial apps, payments, or a VPN. In Russia, for its part, it seems clear that citizens are trying to obtain information from outside the country, not filtered by the very strong iron curtain set up by Vladimir Putin: up to twelve of the twenty most downloaded apps in the country are VPNs.

It is really difficult for me to imagine a situation in which I have to be forced, from one day to the next, to unload apps to receive information on which nothing less than my survival or that of my family depends. Somehow, the landscape of downloaded apps in a war zone whose citizens are used to using smartphones on a daily basis and staying connected in many common aspects of your life can help us to have some clues about the importance of being in such a situation.

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