Mobile communications are useful but depend on infrastructure that can be damaged, overwhelmed, or even absent. This app assumes zero infrastructure. The phones talk to each other using WiFi; relaying calls and messages and figuring out how to resolve numbers. In other words, it lets your phone communicate with other Android phones running Serval Mesh within WiFi range. Basic Android still doesn't allow WiFi in AdHoc mode (it now has Direct WiFi though), so the app will ask for root if you try to enable ad-hoc mode. Seems an iOS port was created end of 2018.
Once embedded with ad-hoc networking technology, a group of smartphones in close proximity can together create an ad-hoc network. Of course telco's don't like this (and neither do many governments) as it bypasses network charges and the ability to manage a network via the hub-and-spokes model.
The Serval Project is a project financed by the Shuttleworth Foundation (of Ubuntu Linux fame), as well as various other organisations and accepting individual donations. It is headquartered at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. The project aims to develop technology that can be used to create direct connections between cellular phones through their Wi-Fi interfaces, without the need for a mobile phone operator. The technology allows for live voice calls whenever the mesh is able to find a route between the participants. Text messages and other data can be communicated using a store and forward system called Rhizome, allowing communication over unlimited distances and without a stable live mesh connection between all participants. The Serval Project includes a collaborate mapping application intended to support disaster relief and recovery efforts.
It is unlike other projects (such as Briar, Bridgefy and Fireside apps) in that it also allows for packet radio operating in the ISM 915 MHz band to bridge the gaps between distant mesh networks using a Serval Mesh Extender device.
The sad part is I'm not seeing any project updates since the end of 2018 and the app was last updated about two years back. It has also disappeared from the official Google App Store. More details on the project at http://www.servalproject.org/
and the app is still available through the F-Droid store at https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.servalproject/.
Blog updates can be found at https://servalpaul.blogspot.com/.
#disasters The Serval Project
Latest News & Information direct from the Serval Project team.