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OurStreets launching tracking feature to help customers find product availability at grocery stores

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Posted at 7:15 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 18:35:25-04

CLEVELAND — OurStreets, an app dedicated to tracking street safety issues, is launching an update this week that will allow users to track and share what stores have essential resources.

“Toilet paper, hygiene products, as well as food stuffs: fresh food and vegetables,” said OurStreets Founder Mark Sussman.

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Many store shelves are nearly empty where paper products and cleaning supplies normally sit.

It’s hardly a surprise when shoppers walk into many grocery stores.

“The shelves are somewhat bare,” said Alison Knight. “I can usually find fresh produce pretty easy but obviously there's no paper products, cleaning products, anything like that.”

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Cheese products are also in short supply at one Lakewood grocery store.

In February, News 5 reported on how OurStreets had just launched in Cleveland, tracking street safety issues and giving data to Bike Cleveland and Clevelanders for Public Transit.

Now, it’s shifting it’s focus to helping everyone find what they need during the coronavirus outbreak.

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OurStreets launched to allow users to report incidents like this, where a truck is blocking a bus lane. With much of the country essentially shut down, the company is pivoting for now.

Instead of taking pictures of cars in bike lanes, users will soon be able to take pictures of store shelves, showing what merchandise is either in stock or missing.

The app already uses location data for it’s street safety purposes, so that data will show what store a user is in.

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The OurStreets shows this screen, telling users that an update is coming soon that will allow them to help track grocery store supplies.

“All of that is going to feed to a public facing map so that people can see what users are reporting and what retailers are updating in real time,” said Sussman.

Right now, Sussman says that kind of information is not being tracked in one central location. That often means shoppers go store to store, exposing themselves to more people.

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This picture from March 17, 2020 shows there are far fewer people in downtown Cleveland than on a normal day, and normal St. Patrick's Day. Empty streets means customers have to find small businesses online, if they can afford to spend any extra money right now.

“I’ve gone out and tried to look for Lysol at like maybe eight different stores when this first started and of course couldn't find anything,” said Knight.

Sussman says the update will roll out this week, adding the grocery story feature to the existing street safety app.

After a few days to gather information about which resources are in what stores, Sussman says it could be a huge help to people who need it.

“Once we have enough critical data, then we can show this on a map so that those that are at risk can know when and where to shop,” said Sussman.

You can download the app here.