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Business & Economy

Innovative app helps users stay safe as lockdown restrictions ease

A North East software development company has created an innovative app to support the continued need for physical distancing as the country comes out of lockdown.

Stockton-based Sapere Software is launching Quevel – a mobile app that shows the user how full a shop or business is at a given time of the day – at the end of this month (July).

Operations director Paul Drake explained: “Knowledge is power, so being able to see how busy a venue is before setting off will reduce people’s exposure to crowded spaces and help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“The app is really simple to use and set up – the business owner can set up geo-fences around their premises on the web, and this is used to determine occupancy levels.

“For example, a user is thinking about going to the gym at 4pm, but they look at the app and it is coloured red, indicating high occupancy, where the company’s other venues are green for low occupancy.

“The user can then decide to risk being with large volumes of people, wait for a suggested quiet time or go to another branch.”

The app also has a contact-tracing feature, similar to the NHS Track and Trace service being rolled out nationwide.

Paul said: “Any business using the app will have a list of people attending at any point. Should the business owner be notified of a case of Covid-19 among patrons, the app can send out a notification to those they may have come into contact with, allowing them to take appropriate isolation measures.”

The app is the brainchild of software developer David Lee, who created it during one of Sapere’s monthly innovation sessions, where each member of the team works on their own projects.

David said: “The app will prevent the queues that are associated with social distancing. This means less time being close to other people, avoiding contact with others who may have the virus.

“Over time, we can build a useful picture of the venue’s quiet times, allowing customers to plan their visits.”

Director Shaun Merifield added: “Quevel highlights the importance of our innovation sessions. We don’t have an R&D (research and development) department, so we’re reliant on the team to think of new ideas. We figured the best way was to allow them to work on something they have a real passion for.

“The beauty of this is it allows us to create simple solutions quickly that can improve the wellbeing of local and national communities.”

As lockdown led to a greater reliance on digital technology, the Sapere team have found their services in greater demand over the past few months.

Paul said: “If anything, lockdown has brought more opportunities because it has accelerated the need for firms to digitise more.

“Software development has always been key to businesses wanting to improve efficiencies, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to work smarter and in multiple locations.”

To support growing demand for services, the team has recently created an internship role for a junior software designer. Leon Wilberforce will be help to finalise the firm’s internal software system, as well as working on client briefs and taking part in the monthly innovation sessions.

Paul added: “As a digital business we have to remain at the forefront of current and future technologies. The digital world moves at such as fast pace we would be left behind if we didn’t always look to innovate.”

Quevel will be in the AppStore and Google Marketplace from July 27, and can be used by any business whose customers would benefit from knowing how busy it is.