cfsmtb in low earth orbit

Friday, September 10, 2004

Protests powered by cellphone

As thousands of protesters marched through Manhattan during the Republican National Convention last week, some were equipped with a wireless tactical communications device connected to a distributed information service that provided detailed and nearly instantaneous updates about route changes, street closures and police actions.

TXTMob had its first major New York workout on the evening of Aug. 27, during the Critical Mass, a loosely organized bicycle ride through Manhattan by anti-Republican protesters. From the start of the ride, participants in a TXTMob group called comms_dispatch sent a slew of messages alerting one another to route changes and warning of traffic snarls. As the ride neared its end, comms_dispatch buzzed with reports of arrests from Second Avenue to 10th Avenue, and around St. Mark's Church in the Bowery.