Kenyan startup Ushahidi develops connectivity device for the African Market


Just weeks after reports emerged that Google was planning to  deploy Wi-Fi blimps in Africa and Asia where technology infrastructure is lacking, Kenya’s startup Ushahidi  has unveiled its own plan – BRCK , dubbed as ‘The easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don’t have electricity’, a solution that will be especially useful in bolstering internet connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The BRCK which was announced at the TEDGlobal Conference in Scotland yesterday acts like a backup generator for the internet offering connectivity in places where it is patchy. The

The device is physically robust, able to connect to multiple networks, a hub for all local devices, and has enough backup power to survive a blackout.

The BRCK works much the way your cell phone does, by intelligently and seamlessly switching between Ethernet, Wifi, and 3G or 4G mobile phone networks. By plugging in a SIM card or connecting to a wired or wireless ethernet connection the BRCK will automatically get online.

It works when the electricity goes out and it works when the internet goes down. It is portable and easy to set up. It supports up to 20 devices, with WiFi powerful enough to cover multiple rooms.

The BRCK device also operates seamlessly with the BRCK Cloud through which you can manage alerts and applications remotely from your phone or computer, as well as gather data reported from attached sensors or computers.

BRCK Cloud syncs your BRCK with current data from cellular providers in your country. This backend provides a dashboard of metrics to monitor your connectivity and devices over time, and a way to install new services like VPN, Dropbox or any other app that you might create.

The BRCK will go on sale in November with a price tag of £130, approximately Ksh 17, 500.

Ushahidi, a Swahili word, for’testimony’, began during a media blackout following the 2008 Kenyan presidential election, launching software for election monitoring via SMS. The firm has since developed more softwares that has been used to help victims of the Haiti earthquake and Japanese tsunami.

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