Community Crowdsourcing of essential food and services data during COVID-19

Table of Contents

{ Background }

BetaNYC is working to create a citywide database of supermarkets and other food stores’ hours for seniors, people that are immunocompromised, and emergency workers. For this to happen, we want an open framework for crowdsourcing this data.

Around the world seniors and immunocompromised individuals have been given special accommodation at a number of retail places. Most of these places reserve a few hours so this vulnerable population can shop with dignity AND not have to worry. See NY Post.

Because this virus will be with us for the foreseeable future, we imagine segmented hours for the foreseeable future. The BetaNYC team has been reaching out to all relevant city agencies and can validate that this is a real need and no one else is working on it. Now, we’re in the process of pulling together data and partners.

In NYC, this is an interesting issue. The mayor does not control supermarket hours. Hours can be suggested by the City of New York, but can only be enforced by the State of New York. Since nothing is being pushed by both levels of government, we feel that building a database and later a web map and other forms (newsletters, SMS, APIs) will be helpful for communities to get the access to buy food and other goods.

Stores and hours constantly will change due to staffing and other issues. This will require a lot of effort from volunteers to crowdsource data, official sources via surveys and merging of existing lists, to have the most up accurate and up to date data.

Nationally, we’re identifying partners, collaborating on a data schema, and scaffolding out a data collection workflow.

For NYC, we’ll be building out a “Senior Hours / immunocompromised hours” map.

{ Help us collect data / this is what we are doing }

Right now, we’re standardizing data from a various number of resources. We’ve helped NYC Food Policy Center, Who’s Open in Queens, and East Village – EVGrieve manage their datasets and eventually add it to a citywide database.

{ Send us your data }

We want to help you get your data into this format and help us build a unified database of vulnerable population hours.

{ Start Collecting Data }

Here is the template we are using to collect data.

  • Google spreadsheet template ( Use this google sheet to start collecting your own data. If you have questions about it, find us in slack or email us at )
  • Airtable template (this contains the 14k food vendors AND preliminary data we’re collecting from partners)

{ Help us develop the tools }

This is a monumental project and we’ve wanted to give it a bit of consideration before hopping into building a data collection tool to service 8.5+ million New Yorkers. We’re still very much in the planning collaboration phase of collecting data and determining the right partners. Our first pass at existing food vendors in NYC gave us 14,000+ locations! That’s bodegas & 7/11s, fruit/vegetable vendors, and supermarkets! That’s quite a bit of data to validate.


We use as a tool to stay connected to each other. Please join us by visiting to request an invite. Then, you can login to and join us in #app-covid-foodaccess

For more information about slack, visit Slack’s help center.


Contact the dev-team at hours{a/t}beta{d0t}nyc.

{ Data format / Columns}

These are the required columns, we would like everyone to have. It is important we collect hours, accessibility, government programs, and delivery options. Not all national retail hour databases collect data about accessibility and government support programs.

Column NameDescription Examples
NameName of establishment 
Unique ID A unique number or string  to help identify this record633813
Last UpdatedWhen was the information last updated or collected. 3/30/2020 12:21pm3/30
SourceSource of dataset. URL, name of person, or picture.John S.
Contact InfoEmail or phone number of establishment (718)
TypeEstablishment typeGrocery storeSupermarketPharmacyLaundromat  
AddressAddress including City, State, and Zip Code. 123-12 4RD AVE, FLUSHING, NY 11232
StatusOpen or ClosedOpenClosed
HoursGeneral text, leave blank of ClosedMonday – Friday 7am-7pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am-7pmEveryday 7am-7pm
Special accommodation hours General text, leave blank if NoneTuesdays-Thursdays 7am-8am
Accepts SNAP/EBTYes, No, and other NotesYes, In store only. Yes, Delivery & Store.
Accepts WICYes, No, and other NotesYes, In store only. Yes, Delivery & Store.
Offers DeliveryYes, No, and other Notes

We are also collecting these columns:

  • Emergency Worker hours
  • Accessible entrance 
  • Offers Pickup/ Takeout
  • Delivery/ Pickup Notes
    • Links or text to various delivery or pickup platforms
  • Latitude/Longitude (this can auto generated)
  • Other Notes 
    • Fundraisers and gift cards links
    • Social distancing rules and face mask/glove requirements
    • Amount and Type of Supplies in Stores