New app helping Venezuelans find scarce items

Jun 09, 2013 by Frank Bajak

Harried Venezuelans who devote hours scouring supermarkets for increasingly scarce food basics and toilet paper have just received some digital help thanks to a young software developer.

A free application for mobile devices written by Jose Augusto Montiel lets people notify one another where flour, sugar, milk, cooking oil and toilet paper are for sale. It has been downloaded more than 12,000 times.

The app, known as Abasteceme, or Supply Me, is Android-based and relies on for . It leverages what is known in the tech world as crowdsourcing, with users notifying one another where a certain product is for sale.

Basic items such as and butter have gone missing on store shelves throughout Venezuela. Economists blame government-imposed price controls, while President Nicolas Maduro says greedy merchants are hoarding goods.

"From what I've seen so far it's mostly , followed by flour," Montiel said about what gets posted most.

The 21-year-old chemical in the western city of Maracaibo said most of Abasteceme's users were in Caracas when he first made the app available on the Google Play website on May 29.

"But now it has spread all over the country," he said.

He said it's been overwhelming keeping the server that hosts the application from crashing and attending to users, who he says are clamoring for him to include more products.

"People are asking for chicken, butter and soap above all," he said.

Montiel said he also deletes a lot of entries when people notify him that supplies of a certain product have sold out.

The program is designed to automatically erase notifications in two hours, he said.

Montiel said he has no help beyond his sister, who assists with the program's aesthetics.

"I'm also working to develop it for the Blackberry as a lot of people have them in Venezuela," he said.

He said he wants to work on an version but can't afford a Mac to do that. He said he's earning just enough to cover costs.

Explore further: Tecnalia designs an app to help elderly people get around on public transport

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook Home off to slow start on Google Play

Apr 22, 2013

A little more than a week after being released, Facebook's new interface for Android smartphones, Facebook Home, has crossed the 500,000 mark for downloads on the Google Play application store.

Bug forces Google to pull Gmail app

Nov 02, 2011

Google unveiled an email application for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on Wednesday but was forced to pull it just hours later because of a bug.

Google rolls its own keyboard app for Android 4.0 and up

Jun 06, 2013

(Phys.org) —Google Maps, Google Drive, Google This, Google That….But there is always room for one more new arrival from Google, and now it is in the form of an app called Google Keyboard. Available at ...

Facebook Home features spread to iPhones

Apr 16, 2013

Facebook said Tuesday that features from its new Home software for Android-powered smartphones will begin spreading this week to Apple's popular iPhones.

Recommended for you

Google worker shows early-draft glimpse of Chrome OS

Jul 20, 2014

The Chrome OS is in for a future look. Athena, a Chromium OS project, will bring forth the new Chrome OS user experience. Google's François Beaufort on Friday, referring to the screenshot he posted, said," ...

Google eyes Chrome on Windows laptop battery drain

Jul 19, 2014

Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows has been said to have a problem for some time but this week comes news that Google will give it the attention others think the problem quite deserves. Namely, Google is to ...

Mental-health monitoring goes mobile

Jul 16, 2014

Behavioral health analytics startup Ginger.io sees smartphones as "automated diaries" containing valuable insight into the mental well-being of people with mental illnesses.

User comments : 0