KickCOVID.us Crowdsources Business Safety Data
Most online business directories feature listings with phone numbers, hours of operations, and driving directions. A new Covid-focused business directory is aiming to do more than that.
KickCOVID.us is one part business directory, one part safety monitor. The hyperlocal mobile website allows consumers to read and rate the relative safety of businesses based on the precautions they are taking around Covid-19.
Look up Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, for example, and you’ll see that social distancing is being enforced and some masks are being worn, but no temperature checks are taking place. At Matchbox, a restaurant in Ashburn, Virginia, most people are wearing masks and no-contact delivery is currently available.
KickCOVID.us’s listings display the new reality we find ourselves in, where drink menus and seasonal specials matter less to people than safety protocols and the distance between tables.
KickCOVID.us is the brainchild of Surendra Goel and Ranjit Kohli. Goel, a former executive at AOL and co-founder of the roadside assistance app Urgent.ly, developed the idea for a free mobile website devoted to Covid safety back in May, during a drive from Washington, DC, to New York City. With so many businesses shut down, Goel realized there was no way to figure out where he’d be able to stop for restroom breaks or lunch along the way.
Building a solution to that problem meant partnering with Kohli, a management and technology entrepreneur. Together, the pair developed the concept for a mobile website that would rely on crowdsourced content to provide users with safety information about nearby businesses.
The KickCOVID.us campaign is powered by Laukti, a mobile safety information website that Goel developed. Laukti does not collect or share any private data, and Goel says there are no cookies, so users can’t be tracked. It features a search platform that people can use to find a location of interest and then view or update Covid safety information on specific listings in real-time. People can search by business name or industry and location. Goel says he hopes people will use the platform to make better decisions about where to travel, eat, and shop in their own communities.
“The idea is this mobile website would provide a place where people could get the information they need, so they can go out – safely and comfortably,” Goel says. “It would also offer some hope, during this difficult time, so that we maybe can try and get back to some semblance of normalcy.”
Goel hopes that making the website free will help to ensure all safety information is accurate and fair. He does not plan to use moderation and is instead relying on crowdsourced content provided by users.
Although KickCOVID.us is only a few months old, Goel says he’s already seeing consumers and businesses spread the word. Businesses are sharing their masking, social distancing, and other safety measures on the site to reassure customers, and customers are sharing their experiences to help businesses do better.
“Information on [approximately] 500 businesses has been crowdsourced to date,” he says. “We are seeing an increase in the sharing of safety information on social media as well.”
As with most new businesses, Goel says the biggest challenge has been getting the word out about KickCOVID.us. He enlisted the help of friends and family to create a volunteer group to work together on a grassroots effort to promote KickCOVID.us, and he’s actively working to reach businesses so they can make sure the information in their own listings is updated and accurate.
“We started mostly with data in the Washington, DC, area, but have been slowly spreading to other cities where some of our volunteers live or have friends and family, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New York,” he says. “Our goal is to hit every major city in the continental United States and even Hawaii and Guam.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.