This Philly founder created an app to gamify social distancing efforts

And she's looking for users to demo it this week.

Shannon Morales.

(Photo via LinkedIn)

Shannon Morales was working on growing her diverse staffing company, Echo Me Forward, in Philly Startup Leaders’ (PSL) idea-stage accelerator when the coronavirus pandemic hit Philadelphia.

The founder, who’s also the local chapter leader of Techqueria, a Latinx-centered org that focuses on career advice and development for those in the tech space, knew there was an opportunity for technology to help folks practice social distancing.

She conceived of an app that would not only encourage social distancing, but also gamify it. So, last month she launched Stealth.ify, an app that tracks COVID-19 using real-time, publicly available data and alerts users via push notifications when they’re in high-density areas. Morales said she’s looking to partner with area businesses to reward those who practice safe social distancing with things like discounted food delivery services or virtual fitness classes.

She’s also developing a feature in the app to monitor how busy businesses like grocery stores are at certain times of the day, so users can plan to go during off-hours — a feature that goes beyond what other tech solutions popping up to track cases say they can offer, and takes into account how your everyday consumer would use that information, Morales said. (That part reminds a bit of OurStreets Supplies, a D.C.-built app that uses crowdsourcing to track the availability of stores’ essential supplies.)

After talking through the concept with others in the entrepreneurship space, there’s interest in adding a telemedicine feature, too, and the founder said she’s hoping the app will be used by folks in low-income families or in areas with fewer resources. If all the hoped-for features are incorporated, it could provide information about the virus and nearby shopping options as well as healthcare availability.


“This app could incorporate everything they might need, and make them able to take that health piece upon themselves,” she said.

Stealth.ify on desktop and mobile. (Courtesy image)

Morales has been working on the app with three Drexel University students whose other internships were canceled because of the pandemic. And with help from PSL Executive Director Kiera Smalls, Morales said she’s been working with impact investors and a nonprofit to fund its development.

Stealth.ify’s homepage is now live and in need of beta users to participate by filling out a questionnaire with info like location and demographics.

Morales said she hopes to have the app available in 15 or so states after it’s fully developed. And while current social distancing efforts might ease up across the country in phases in the coming weeks, it’s likely that we’ll need to continue efforts of some form of social distancing until a vaccine is in place, making such an app relevant for many months.

“We can look at it like you’re trapped or forced to do something,” she said of current mandates. “But with the game user, they’re doing it with an incentive.”

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