Stay safe, save time and avoid crowds with Crowdless

Stay safe, save time and avoid crowds with Crowdless

Yohan Iddawela

Physical distancing may be the ‘new normal’

As countries around the world begin easing lockdown restrictions, we’re all faced with the problem of how to interact responsibly with one another.

Physical distancing is still necessary to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We’re told by health authorities that this may be something we need to get used to — that it’s part of a ‘new normal’. So, as people are allowed to move around more freely, we need better awareness of where crowds and queues are so that we can plan our movements more safely.

Spending hours in a queue may not be your only option

Plus, who likes queues at supermarkets anyway? At Crowdless, we have a community of over 60,000 users from all over the world who’ve been writing in and sharing their horror stories of queuing at supermarkets.

Here’s a photo from one of our users, showing a crowd waiting to enter a supermarket in Colombo, Sri Lanka:

This was a problem even before this coronavirus pandemic struck. Prior to COVID-19, British people spent on average 5.5 hours a month waiting in lines[1]. Sure, the British love a good queue, but even they are now beginning to question the central role of queueing in British identity.[2] In fact, we surveyed our British users and only 15% of people say they would wait in a queue if they saw one.

With Crowdless, we’re providing a free tool to help you check how busy your local supermarkets are before you leave the house.

Get real-time information on how busy stores are so you can avoid crowds

With Crowdless, we’re providing a free tool to help you check how busy your local supermarkets are before you leave the house. This helps you choose a less busy time to visit or a less busy alternative. Not only can this help you save hours, it’s also a tool you can use to help you with social distancing and to stay safe.

Info from the community for the community

If there’s one thing we learned from lock-down, it’s that we’re all social creatures. It was difficult for many of us to go such a long period of time with minimal human interaction. Yet despite the barriers to physical interaction, we saw an upsurge in community sentiment. Communities were emerging virtually — through Zoom chats, WhatsApp groups, and online forums.

We heard stories from our volunteers about local communities creating WhatsApp groups to text each other information on how busy places are, so that vulnerable people could make better decisions about their movements. We heard stories from immuno-compromised people who relied on their friends and families to help them with the groceries.

We wanted to be a part of this community spirit, and to help magnify it. We know that the best information on how busy stores are comes directly from our community of users. They are the ones on the ground, experiencing things first-hand. We therefore launched our volunteer community ambassador program, which has seen people from over 12 different countries come together to brainstorm ways of improving the quality of our data and the coverage of stores. Together, we’re able to create a better app that helps people stay safe and save time.

We don’t compromise on privacy

Our team built this tool to help everyone out during these challenging times. There are no strings attached. We don’t charge you, and we don’t store or sell any of your personal data. In fact, we don’t even have a login screen so we don’t know who our users are. Data privacy is something we won’t compromise on.

So please stay safe, enjoy yourselves, and make your next visit to a supermarket Crowdless.

Download Crowdless on iOS or Android today: crowdlessapp.co/app.

Footnotes

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5052956/Britons-spent-six-months-queuing.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/31/we-used-to-love-a-queue-but-that-was-before-the-pandemic


Stay safe, save time and avoid crowds with Crowdless was originally published in Crowdless on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Community Ambassador Blog: How I’m supporting local businesses and the vulnerable

How I’m supporting local businesses and the vulnerable during the pandemic

Community Ambassador Blog by Adam Sidbury

Crowdless was created to help people shop more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The free app helps you to maintain social distancing by allowing you to choose the least busy time to shop. We know that maintaining social distancing is key to halting the spread of the coronavirus. To support communities during the pandemic we asked for volunteers to come forward, as Crowdless Community Ambassadors. They were asked to play two roles: firstly, to spread the word and encourage users to contribute information on crowdedness in stores they visit to improve safety in their local communities, and secondly to help onboard local stores so we can support them by providing free publicity during these challenging times.

We are delighted to share the stories of our Community Ambassadors.

ADAM SIDBURY: When the lockdown started in March, the local community spirit strengthened because we were no longer allowed to go out except for essentials (unless your name is Cummings). Many of us preferred not to go out to the shops at all because of the queues, so we decided to set-up a street group with the objective of supporting local suppliers and having our food delivered.

At this time, only vulnerable people were able to get regular home deliveries from the main supermarkets so this was a solution that worked for us and supported the local retailers who had just seen all their business with local restaurants and cafés vanish overnight. We found a local fruit and veg retailer, a butcher and a baker (sadly no candlestick maker required), all of whom had just lost the bulk of their business and were struggling making lots of small deliveries to local homes. I created a shared Google spreadsheet and we used a WhatsApp group to communicate. My neighbours entered their food requirements onto the spreadsheet each week. It then produced a set of pick and pack labels that I emailed to each supplier every Tuesday morning.

Our group rapidly grew to include some other locals and a vulnerable couple living close by. Then either on the same day or on the Wednesday morning, the three suppliers delivered to my garage. I kept our neighbours informed on arrival times using our WhatsApp group and they walked around to collect their goods. The final part was me paying the suppliers and collecting the money back from each neighbour. Most paid me with a bank transfer and a couple posted cheques through my letterbox. We operated this system successfully for eleven weeks and completed our final orders last week. We stopped because the volume of orders was reducing as people ventured out again and more home delivery slots became available from a wider variety of the larger retailers. It was also quite a bit of work for me to organise.

I first heard about Crowdless soon after its launch after reading an article in the local press and thinking what a great idea! In fact, so, good that I volunteered to be a community ambassador to help spread the word. It’s a bit like face masks in that the more people who use it, the better protected everyone becomes. I have been encouraging neighbours to use the feedback mechanism on the app when they visit a shop to help improve accuracy. It only takes a second and you can do it in the queue! I like the simplicity of the app and how easily it gets me to the least crowded local shop.

I have been promoting Crowdless in my community because I am sure there are lots of people like me who prefer to avoid queues and crowded shops. Most shops are limiting the number of customers inside which inevitably means queues at busier times. Unless you have a particular passion for queuing (at 2m apart of course) I can’t think why you wouldn’t use the app to find a convenient but less busy shop or time to visit. I have been using the latest version of Crowdless for a few days now and I like the new design, the favourites list which allows you very quick access to the stores you have selected and the fact that it’s still so quick and simple to use with its red, orange, green traffic light ratings system. It’s all very good trying to stay 2m away from people, but if you check Crowdless before you leave home, it’s going to be an awful lot easier to keep physically distanced if the shops aren’t busy. And as a bonus, I suspect we all get much better customer service when shops aren’t busy.

Download Crowdless today from the App Store or Play Store.


How I’m supporting local businesses and the vulnerable during the pandemic was originally published in Crowdless on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.