Start-Up's Antenna Technology Recognized by City

A tech start-up in Brooklyn says it's got the answer when it comes to making a call or sending a text message when there's no cell service - technology the city says can help the next time there's a disaster like Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Hurricane Sandy destroyed Diana Petrone's bagel store on Staten Island. With streets closed and phone service down she felt completely isolated, unable to communicate with fellow business owners on Hylan Boulevard.

"When something big like that happens, we're kind of back to the stone age. There was no cell phone service for days. There was definitely no land line service unless you had one of those old rotary phones because there was no electricity," Petrone recalled.

The founders of a Brooklyn start-up had just this scenario in mind when they created their company goTenna. They made a device that allows users to text each other on their cell phones even when they cannot get cell service.

It essentially functions as a portable antenna, allowing you to communicate with other people who have the devices and load the goTenna app on their phones.

"What goTenna enables you to do is have communication no matter what. And not just with people you know, but with other people who might be in range. And an emergency in particular the people you don't know might be the people you most need to get in touch with,"said Daniela Perdomo of goTenna.

The device has many applications. For example, it allows users to communicate in the wilderness or any place else where there is spotty cell service. It also allows you to share your location - a godsend if you are lost.

But the city thinks it's such a good idea for disasters that it has chosen goTenna as a winner of a competition to develop new technologies to make the city safer in future storms. Eleven technology firms will share up to $30 million in federal storm resiliency funds.

As part of the terms of the grant, goTennas will be given to roughly 10,000 small businesses citywide that were either physically damaged in Sandy or lie within the 100 year flood plain as designated by FEMA.

It's goTenna's first big contract, allowing the Williamsburg company to expand. And officials say that makes this a win-win for the city.

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