"Think of it as Waze for toilet paper."

When Mark Sussman and Daniel Schep came together and made the OurStreets app (for on Android and iOS) back in January, it was designed as a crowdsourcing tool to report unsafe road conditions in the Washington, D.C., area. Now, with the strange conditions we all share due to the coronavirus pandemic, they're releasing another feature called OurStreets Supplies. 

OurStreets Supplies wants to maintain a real-time inventory of essential supplies through crowdsourcing. Users will be able to report key items as fully stocked, running low, or sold-out, as well as submit photos from the store they visited.

“Instead of issues that you could be reporting around street safety, [the app] is going to show you different supplies that you may be shopping for, such as toilet paper or hand sanitizer, fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, etc.,” says Sussman. Shoppers will also be able to log if they felt safe with the social distancing measures taken at their location.

diagram
A diagram of the OurStreets Supplies process, courtesy OurStreets.

The original app already has a significant user base in the D.C. area. With the release of the new feature, they're looking to partner with local government and commercial entities, like they already have with Union Kitchen. Once the platform gathers a critical mass of data on sopping conditions, they'll be able to publish real-time maps to both the app and their website.

What's the upshot?

Working as intended, OurStreets supplies will help shoppers make safe and smart decisions, minimize the stress from shopping around, and get what they need. As Sussman observes, “There’s not necessarily a lack of supplies, there’s just a lack of information around where those supplies are located." 

However, like social distancing in general, it's a team effort.

"People and retailers have to contribute to this for it to work. Everybody needs to start cataloging what the stores have," Sussman continues.

They also encourage shoppers to employ the Golden Rule when using their app—this isn't a tool for more effective panic-buying. 

“Hoarding is the exact antithesis of what we’re trying to accomplish," he says.

For more information, you can check their article here, which contains information on how you can help. (They're looking for commercial and government contacts, software engineers, and more.) You can download here in anticipation of the release. 

How are you holding up? Would a product like this be useful for your forays to the store? Chime in with a comment.