Store Finder PH launches Facebook chatbot for free mobile internet users

When Store Finder PH’s map website went live on March 19 to help locate nearby establishments that are open during the COVID-19 community quarantine, families with no internet connection seem left behind.

However with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, the volunteer-initiated website is able to make its key content available on Facebook Messenger through a chatbot. A chatbot is a computer robot that replies to messages like a human being.

Currently, Facebook Messenger can be used even without a mobile data plan as part of the basic service of Smart, Globe, and affiliate providers, making the store finding-chatbot accessible to more than 44 million phone internet users in the Philippines at no extra cost.

Store Finder

Store Finder PH named its chatbot “Crowdy” to signify the project’s crowd-sourcing nature of collecting information. To use the chatbot, the user should open the project’s Facebook messenger.

After tapping “Get Started”, the user may pick the establishment category and type a location that the chatbot will scan through. A list of  search results including grocery shops, restaurants, pharmacies, banks, ATM centers, remittance centers, logistic hubs, and other essential stores  is then displayed within seconds.

Although the map feature is disabled when on free mobile data, crucial information including business hours are still delivered in text format.

“Our main contribution as millenials to the Enhanced Community Quarantine measure of the government is making tech solutions and life-saving information reach the doorsteps of every Filipino,” said Trinmar Boado, an award-winning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) advocate and leader of the volunteer project.

He added the chatbot is getting a high volume of query for remittance centers, explaining this must be from parents of stranded students and other individuals sending out financial help.

On Store Finder PH’s website version at www.storefinder.ph, users can see the map of their neighborhood and the exact location of open establishments. They can also chat with other active users within the vicinity to seek any assistance during emergencies.

To start using the Store Finder PH chatbot, open m.me/StoreFinder.PH or fb.com/StoreFinder.PH now.

Store Finder PH is a volunteer-initiated project by Good Vibes Digital Philippines,  a group organized by Clash of Codes 2019 winner, Trinmar Boado, to help families locate nearby essential establishments that are open during the Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) period. To support this community initiative,  email chrisaligo@gmail.com or call 0977-340-5736.

Website launched for locating nearby open establishments during quarantine period

As most establishments in the Philippines closse due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) making it both hard and risky to go out to buy goods, a website launched to help locate those that are still open.

Called “Crowd Store Finder,” the website works lie Waze or Google Maps that scans through the user’s neighborhood to find stores, banks, pharmacies, and remittance centers that remain operational.

Under government guidelines, only establishments selling basic commodities are allowed to open during the quarantine period. This is to prevent people from staying outdoors that increases their risk of catching COVID-19.

Aside from knowing the open establishments, users can also chat with their neighbors who are currently using the website to ask questions and seek further assistance.

Crowd Store Finder relies on information shared by volunteers from Good Vibes Digital PH, a group organized by Trinmar Boado, winner of the Clash of Codes competition at Multisys Technologies in 2019.

Boado, who works at the Department of Science and Technology’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC), said more than 100 volunteers are coordinating safely from their own homes.

“This technology reminds us that sharing of info does not just save the time of other people but also their lives.” shared the IT expert.

Visit the Crowd Store Finder website or follow it on Facebook.

Website details provided in a recent press release.