In times of crisis, our phones can become our saviors and lifelines. This is quite evident since Russia invaded Ukraine, as the Ukrainian people are using technology to fight back. From receiving a timely alert about air raids to receiving encrypted messages, Ukrainians rely on various apps to survive and navigate their way through war.
Here are some of the apps for Android and iOS that have helped Ukrainians stay informed and connected in the face of Russian aggression.
Ukrainians understand that secure communication is essential. This is why Signal recorded more than 700,000 downloads in Ukraine from February 24 to March 20, 2022, an increase of more than 1075% compared to the period of the previous month.
The app enables end-to-end encryption, thereby protecting messages from prying eyes. With Signal, you can send and receive text messages, photos, videos, documents, anything you would normally send in a message.
Each user has a unique identifier; since it is encrypted, only those who have your ID can see your content. You can also set self-destruct timers on sent messages, so that they disappear after a certain time.
To download: Signal for Android | iOS (Free)
2. Air Alert
Information is an invaluable resource during times of testing. And when there is a possibility of airstrikes or chemical attacks, timely notification can aid evacuation.
Air Alert serves the people of Ukraine by providing essential information on Civil Defense alerts. Even if the phone is silent, the app will sound an alert to notify of an airstrike, chemical attack, or any other form of civil defense alert.
While civil defense sirens in cities are useful, they are often not as useful in remote areas. As a result, Air Alert stands out because all you have to do is download the app and specify your location.
To download: Air Alert for Android | iOS (Free)
Diya, an official application of the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation, allows users to access important documents such as passports, COVID-19 certificates or driving licenses. However, shortly after the dispute began, the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Development informed its citizens that the service could be hampered.
The app has been in turmoil ever since, as users have been unable to access their documents. Lately, however, an eDocument feature has been introduced which allows citizens to generate a temporary document.
To download: Diya for Android | iOS (Free)
This app alone has had over a million downloads in March 2022. The people of Ukraine rely on Telegram for up-to-date information and alerts on the war. The public channel Telegram UkraineNOW has more than one million users. Even the Ukrainian government has established official mass communication channels on Telegram.
The app allows encrypted messaging and channel setup with an unlimited number of users. In addition to news and alerts, locals use Telegram to share photos, videos and other updates on what’s happening on their streets.
To download: Telegram for Android | iOS (Free)
Ukraine’s communications infrastructure had been in shambles since the start of the conflict. Internet outages have become a common theme. That was until Starlink, a satellite internet service provided by SpaceX, stepped in to restore internet access for the people of Ukraine.
Estimates show that the Starlink app has been downloaded nearly 100,000 times in Ukraine. The app allows you to establish a wireless, secure internet connection with the thousands of trackable SpaceX satellites in lower Earth orbit (LEO).
To download: Starlink for Android | iOS (Free)
Technology provides help during conflict
It is undeniable that the people of Ukraine have indeed leveraged technology in their favor. Managing the security of communications and infrastructure during a conflict is not an easy task.
This becomes more apparent when we look at the ever-popular social media apps like TikTok and Instagram. Ukrainians have strategically used social media to educate the outside world about the ongoing conflict. And it seems to be working, as people around the world have donated to their cause. As of this writing, over $50 million has been donated in cryptocurrency alone.
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