WASHINGTON — A solution is in the works for residents who are desperately searching for groceries, cleaning items and toilet paper, but finding only empty shelves at local stores. 

Mark Sussman, the creator of the app OurStreets, said his new venture OurStreets Supplies will help pair shoppers with the essentials they’re looking for during the coronavirus pandemic. Sussman said the crowdsourcing app (still in the works) is like Yelp, but instead of leaving a review, users update the free app with the items they find, and how many are available. 

On the flip side, retailers can update the app when they get a new shipment of supplies.   

OurStreets in its current form is an app for crowdsourcing the reporting of dangerous driving behavior,” Sussman explained, “like blocking bike lanes and cross walks, distracted driving, aggressive driving.”   

The road safety app was launched just this past January. Now, he’s adding a new app still aimed at keeping people safe – but now addressing empty store shelves and the growing pandemic. He said the D.C. government reached out to him this past weekend. 

“When you open the app, the first thing it will open to is a search functionality,” he said. “If you’re searching for toilet paper, based on your location, it will tell you the top 10 results of stores that have toilet paper available. We don’t want people going to multiple stores, risking their health and overcrowding those stores. and when you’re at the store we ask if you were able to maintain safe social distancing while at the store.  There are lots of mom-and-pop stores in the D.C. Metro area that are fully stocked with these items, but nobody knows, and we don’t want you to go from store-to-store trying to figure it out.” 

Sussman said the free app is a national effort and will be ready to launch the week of March 30. In the meantime, he suggests downloading the current app, OurStreets. Push alerts will notify users as soon as the new app is available.

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