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City, local startup create app showing wait times for Covid testing sites

Author: Jeannette E. Garcia (San Antonio Business Journal)

Local software startup Irys Inc. has developed an app for the city of San Antonio to help users locate Covid-19 testing locations and track wait times in Bexar County.

The app is called COVID WatchSA. And along with helping people find the shortest testing lines near the app user, it provides informational Covid-19 resources and general support.

“This app is going to tell you where to test, but in addition to that, it is going to give you information about what to expect if you’re positive in terms of the case investigation and the contact tracing. Because knowing the results by yourself, that’s helpful, but it is not enough to control the pandemic,” San Antonio District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval said in a news release.

Sandoval and District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia led an initiative to partner with Irys to create the app.

"The fight again Covid-19 has forced us to be creative to help our residents cope with this public health emergency," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said during a press conference announcing the app.

The app is aimed toward providing San Antonians 18 to 44 with access to information in one place, as this age group represents the highest number of cases within the city, Rocha Garcia said.

The app is web-based and does not have to be downloaded or installed, and will only collect location information from its users, Irys said.

Irys created this web-based app at no cost and will update the app as Covid-19 resources and testing locations change.

This past fall, Irys developed a similar app called "Move The Line" in collaboration with MOVE Texas that let people know wait lines for voting polling locations during the election. The development of the COVID WatchSA followed a similar format as that app and links to dashboards and other resources directly from the city’s Covid-19 website.

Irys, formerly known as CityFlag, is known for developing San Antonio's 311SA app, and it has done additional work with the city by way of helping San Antonio-based RedSquared Consulting LLC with an app prototype called "One City," which has an AI-powered chatbot named “Sammy Antonio" that can make location-based recommendations to give the resources a person is looking for tasks as paying a bill, paying a fine, applying for a permit or license, using city services, reporting issues or finding the best places to get a taco.

This past July, Irys closed its initial round of equity funding with investments totaling $1.2 million, as reported by the Business Journal.

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