The Red Cross is urging Italians in the earthquake disaster area to turn off their Wi-Fi passwords so anyone can use them as part of the relief efforts.
Nearly 250 people have died in a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in central Italy on Wednesday, with towns flattened and aftershocks felt hundreds of miles away. Hundreds more have been injured, and as the rescue efforts continue, the death toll is likely to rise further.
The Italian Red Cross, one of the aid groups working in the area, has put out a call for people to open up their Wi-Fi networks on Twitter. Natural disasters like earthquakes can cause a surge in activity on communications networks — often overloading them and making it difficult for calls and messages to get through. (And sometimes, vital communications infrastructure is destroyed entirely.)
Opening up Wi-Fi provides new channels, making it easier for aid workers to coordinate, for locals to let loved ones know they are safe — and perhaps even for trapped survivors to get help.
Here’s a translation of that message, via Slate:
Get access to the Internet by typing the [router’s LAN address] into your browser.
Enter your username and current password that you find in the instructions or on the device.
Log in and go to “options.”
Remove the protections by selecting Network “Free/unsecure.”
Perform a router reset by holding down the power button for 10 seconds.