Covid Maps Can Help in Finding Grocery Stores Open in Your Area
The new platform is using a crowdsourcing model to offer details of offline stores that are open during lockdown.
With India on lockdown since 24 March, people across the country have been facing issues getting hold of essential supplies which includes hand sanitisers.
Most online grocery delivery firms are unable to meet the increased demand, paving the way for innovative platforms to take centrestage.
One such platform is CovidMaps.in which is a web-based app, compatible on PC and mobile. It helps out with details about which store in your vicinity is open, and what items are available there.
The service is available to people in Bengaluru and Vancouver, Canada, for now, and claims to have got over 2,000 visitors on its platform since making a debut on 30 March. It has been built by a group of volunteers based out of Vancouver and Bengaluru, and it is now looking to expand its base to other cities and even countries.
Speaking to The Quint about CovidMaps.in, Sanjeev Rao, Co-founder, CovidMaps, said they are now supporting around 350 store listings on the platform, and adding new ones by the minute.
“It’s a crowdsourced platform, wherein people like you and me will be providing inputs and details about the stores operating in your area.”Sanjeev Rao, Co-founder, CovidMaps
Sanjeev Rao, Phani Kishan and Arjun Attams are the brainchildren behind this platform. Both Sanjeev and Phani have known each other since their college days and even worked together at Swiggy.
While Arjun and Sanjeev used to work together at McKinsey and now both of them live in Vancouver, where the platform is gaining decent traction. “We thought of doing something to help people during the lockdown,” Rao mentioned.
Open For Business
The platform lets users add new stores to its listing, and the process is similar to how it works on Google Maps these days. Since it’s a web-based app, no location data or user information is stored by the firm, making sure user privacy isn’t compromised.
While many are nowadays comfortable using a Big Basket or Grofers to order their grocery, this app caters to the average person, according to Rao, who still prefers to buy goods offline, which explains the simple and easy to use interface of the website.
Need for Moderation
Usually, we have seen content hygiene issues with platforms that crowdsource their data. Rao says Covid Maps is ready to tackle them diligently. “People can make false entries into Wikipedia as well. So we're trying to keep the info as clean as possible,” Rao highlighted.
“We have a problem of plenty. So we’re focused on content moderation, santising inputs on the platform for all the information getting added by the people.”Sanjeev Rao, Co-founder, CovidMaps
This is being done by Sanjeev and around 15 other people for now, who’re responsible for content moderation. And they are looking to get volunteers in the coming weeks to expand the moderation team.
Besides this, he said, the platform will soon offer people an easier way to find stores for their needs. For this, they will be adding product tags on the backend, which will help people filter out their requirements. So, if someone wants to find a store for sanitisers, they can search by using the keyword/tag on the front end.
He believes with a crowdsourced model, you can be confident about a store being open with sufficient stock to meet the demand. More importantly, this service could help hyper-local delivery services like Swiggy Go and Dunzo to operate with higher efficiency and fewer chances of orders getting cancelled by either the staff or the customer.
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