While the number of coronavirus cases in Australia and globally is being updated around the clock, right now there’s not an overly effective way to keep track of the specific location of cases.

That is a problem that Snewpit founder Charlie Khoury wants to solve. Snewpit is a location-based news app that aims to identify news happening very close to its users.

The company was founded 18 months ago and has a very wide focus, covering local sports to nearby traffic accidents. You can see these events on a map and can opt to receive notifications on your phone.

(Picture: Snewpit)

Since the coronavirus broke out, a new category has been created for it.

“We always knew we could use it for things like the bushfires, floods, different types of diseases — any mass news scenario where people need to be informed or is useful to know, we inform of what’s happening. This is a good example,” Khoury told Stockhead.


Flattening the curve

In recent days there has been a push to “flatten the curve”. This means to have people isolate in order to ensure the spread of cases slows down to relieve the pressure on the health system.

Khoury says Snewpit can help with this push.

“We want to help people understand if they may need to self-isolate to help flatten the curve,” he said.

“If we improve awareness then we can help stop the spread because people will know where infected people have been and if they might have come into contact with them.

“Snewpit streamlines the reporting process and also helps authorities and communities track cases.”


How do you prevent fake news?

Letting anyone report cases sounds like the perfect recipe for fake news and hence unnecessary panic.

When the app began, a post (or Snewp) had to have a video or a photo of the event. But Khoury said developers realised it was too hard to have one for every piece of news.

In the latest version of the app, Snewps posts have credibility scores and so do users — judged on upvotes and downvotes from each Snewp.

Khoury says users are not notified if the post cannot be verified. He also thinks what will help is if users become less passive and more active.

“The biggest struggle is getting people to post the content – people will view, come back and read but we need people to post,” he told Stockhead.

Snewpit also has a team of in-house journalists that monitor official government sources and post specific coronavirus case locations and information in the app.