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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Looking for Groceries Amid the Pandemic? UTSA Created a Crowdsourcing Site for That

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 11:18 AM

  • Wikimedia Commons / Eric Pierce
With panic shopping clearing out grocery shelves, profs and students at the University of Texas at San Antonio have launched a website to help residents track down needed supplies.

The COVID-19 Resources & Recovery Site, developed by UTSA's Matrix AI Consortium for Human Well-Being, went live March 15. A Spanish-language version is also in the works, and developers hope to make Google Android and Apple iPhone apps available in coming days. 

The mobile device-enabled site lets users to identify something they're looking for — whether hand sanitizer, medicine or fresh veggies — and have it show up on a map displaying stores that have it in stock. The map makes use of crowdsourced data, or input from actual users, so the developers want San Antonians to help out by supplying their own real-time observations.

"It's a crowdsourcing tool designed to bring different resources to people quickly," said Dhireesha Kudithipudi, director of UTSA's AI Consortium. "But for the site to work its best, we need input from the community."

click to enlarge This screen capture displays the options available on UTSA's COVID-19 Resources & Recovery Site. - SCREEN CAPTURE
  • Screen Capture
  • This screen capture displays the options available on UTSA's COVID-19 Resources & Recovery Site.
Joining head developer and UTSA Bioengineering Professor Amina Ann Qutub,
Kudithipudi and other faculty and students have updated the site with information on local COVID-19 testing locations, mandatory closures, self-care tips and more. The sit will continue to evolve to meet local needs, she added.

In the meantime, the professor and her colleagues must settle on a new name for the app versions. In an effort to fight potential fraud, Google isn't accepting any new apps to its Play Store with COVID-19 in their names.

"We're working to resolve that," Kudithipudi said. "In the meantime, the site is currently available, and it's mobile friendly."

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