South Africans develop app to help users keep safe and avoid crowded areas
An idea between five Capetonian school friends to come together and create an app that would help users save time by avoiding busy stores and long queues couldn’t have come at a better time as the app also helps users to avoid crowded public spaces.
The idea of developing Crowd app came two years ago as a group of friends came together to find better ways for people to avoid busy stores and long queues.
It was only earlier this year that the group decided to fast track its launch as the world was facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Crowd app provides users with up-to-date information on how busy their favourite public locations are in real-time.
“We noticed the large emphasis medical professionals were placing on social distancing and thus decided to fast track the launch of the app so our users could benefit from both the time saving and Covid-19 risk prevention benefits of avoiding crowds,” said Shannon Mark, chief operations officer of Crowd App.
The launch page provides a heat map with a simple comparison of the current population density of stores in your area. With your location marked on the map and the ability to filter to the category of your choice.
Currently, the app provides users with information on how busy certain selected stores are in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban areas. For those looking for a specific location, the search function assists by finding the exact store you are searching for with the click of a button.
“We have launched the app with certain grocery stores and pharmacies activated, as we believed these would be the most visited stores during the SA Covid-19 lockdown. We do however plan on increasing the listed store types in the near future,” said Mark.
The anonymised population data is updated frequently to keep the information as current as possible. Each of their chosen stores has its own store profile which pops up if the user clicks on the store's marker on the Crowd Heatmap or if the store is searched. Crowd also provides an estimate of how busy they expect the store to be in one hour’s time, to help users decide whether to rush out immediately or hold off for a safer time.
“In this store profile, we provide an indication, from 1 to 5 out-of-5, of how busy the store currently is as well as how busy we estimate the store to be in an hour's time,” he said.
Mark added that since the launch of the app the response has been extremely positive as they started with a soft launch to their family and friends to give the app a test run.
“We have since realised how powerful ’word of mouth’ truly is with a constant flow of user engagement and messages coming in on our social pages from people far beyond our initial circle. We have and continue to receive great daily feedback, including many users explaining how helpful they have found the app to be and others with constructive criticism of small changes and new features that they feel would make the app even more useful,” said Mark.
Fergus Strangways-Dixon, CTO of Crowd, emphasised how important it is for them to leverage off technology to save time where they can.
“Although the risk of Covid-19 has increased the need for consumers to avoid crowded areas, nobody has and will ever be a fan of a long queue. It is about time that we plan our trips to public establishments better. Whether it means going at a different time or driving down the road to a quieter location, the time saved will always be appreciated. Crowd is the perfect shopping planning tool,” he said.
Head of Marketing and Public Relations, Adam Crawley highlighted how the app’s launch and subsequent updates will be aligned with the SA’s Covid-19 situation explaining.
“Our initial launch has been limited to the establishments that are in line with the SA government's lockdown restrictions, we do have many ideas in the pipeline. We will keep an eye on SA’s Covid-19 situation and will make sure to adapt the app in line with the changes in regulations along the way,” said Crawley.
The Crowd App is free to download on both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.