AUS faculty member launches app to help stock fridges this Ramadan Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: A free mobile app supporting the community Ramadan fridges initiative was launched by a faculty member from the American University of Sharjah (AUS) on the first day of Ramadan.

Volunteers looking to provide the underprivileged with food and water this Ramadan can use their smartphones, as CommunityFridge.org goes live across the UAE.

Ali Khawaja, Instructor in MIS at the university’s School of Business Administration (SBA), and Founder of the app said his research, which led him to accumulate a database of community fridges in over 15 countries across the world, showed a number of problems related to the maintenance of the fridges.

Describing it as “a Global Database of Sharing,” Khawaja said the Community Fridge app provides a very simple, clean, and easy to use platform that can be operated by anyone around the world, whether they are an individual, an organisation, or a group of volunteers such as the Ramadan Sharing Fridge Initiative in Dubai.

“The app will not only help those that are in need, but will also aid those individuals that are interested in stocking the fridges,” he said.

Khawaja pointed out he wanted to find a way to contribute to the initiative, which drew a lot of attention last year. “When I was looking at the Facebook page for the initiative, I noticed that every third post spoke about the difficulties in finding the fridge, and whether they were still running and properly maintained,” said Khawaja.

“People were using social media platforms, namely Facebook, to complain about fridges that were out of order, those that had been removed without any notice, those that were never stocked, and many other such logistical issues,” he added.

The app was developed by Tarek Al Zubair, of Synergistics, a software development company in Dubai, free of cost. It is available on both iOS and Android, and is free to download on the App Store and Google Play.

The development team is currently working on version 2.0 for the app, which will be launched after Ramadan, and can be used any time of the year. Some of the features that will be incorporated in the later version include allowing users to bookmark their favourite fridges so that they get an instant notification on when a fridge needs to be restocked with food or beverages. Another feature will allow users to search by different categories such as coolers or shelves. This will be especially helpful for travellers or visitors to a new country who run into an emergency, and might need to search for a location where they can get free water.

After downloading the Community Fridge app:

- Users can create an account

- Add one or more fridges to their account

- Oversee their operation

- View the locations of the fridges and select one which is closest to you

- Stock up the fridge and update a running feed by stating the items they have place

- If there is a problem with the fridge, they can contact the owner and let them know about that as well