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Edmonton-developed app shows where supplies are available amid COVID-19 shortages

Bare toilet paper shelves inside a Superstore in Edmonton, Alta. on Saturday, March 7, 2020. .
Bare toilet paper shelves inside a Superstore in Edmonton, Alta. on Saturday, March 7, 2020. . Julien Fournier, Global News

An Edmonton app has re-invented itself to help people find groceries and other supplies.

Spontivly was originally designed to help people connect with their communities and find unique events to take part in.

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“The premise behind it was looking for hyper-local experiences in the city that you are in, connecting people with one another.” said co-founder Anthony Nagendraraj.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“The app had only just launched,” said Nagendraraj. “[Co-founder Raj Rajakumar] and I were really worried. Our app is all about connecting people to their community and solving isolation… now people were in self-isolation and social distancing.”

READ MORE: How to keep busy at home in Edmonton during the COVID-19 pandemic

The duo, who had partnered with the City of Beaumont, began to see those residents using it in a new way to crowdsource information.

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“It happened organically,” said Nagendraraj. “People just started using it to provide information to their neighbours. Posting that ‘This Sobeys has hand sanitizer. This Shoppers Drug Mart has toilet paper.'”

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The app currently has more than 1,000 active users.

A screenshot of app Spontivly
A screenshot of app Spontivly Credit: Spontivly

“We have people using it in B.C., Calgary. In 48 hours, more than 200 users have joined Spontivly,” said Nagendraraj

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The app also became a spot for volunteers to collaborate on how they could reach out to more vulnerable citizens.

“Former MLA Shaye Anderson used our app to create an event that hosted volunteer drivers for seniors. More than 20 people signed up to help,” said Nagendraraj.

The co-owners tell Global News the app, though being used in a different way than expected, is staying true to its original purpose.

“We just wanted to build better community with our app,” said Rajakumar.

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“This is essentially what it’s doing. We just want to help people.”

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