Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg Improves Access to Groceries in Rural Areas

After a successful test phase, went online. The app was developed to improve grocery shopping for inhabitants of rural areas in the Rhine-Neckar region. Researchers at the Institute for Enterprise Systems (InES) at the University of Mannheim helped develop the shopping app.

The goal of the partner projects CrowdMyRegion and Intelligente Marktplätze is to secure food supply to the rural areas of the region. The test phase of was successful, and on Monday, September 9, 2019, the project partners presented to invited guests from politics, business and administration. The project partners are the Landratsamt Rhein-Neckar-Kreis with the model municipalities Spechbach and Schönbrunn, the University of Mannheim, the software engineering company Ciconia Software as well as the Verband Region Rhein-Neckar. is an online market for groceries. The central idea is to create a social network for transporting grocery items: This way, people who do not have a car or are restricted in their mobility for other reasons can access basic supply for food and other fundamental household items more easily. Via, users can reserve or order food at regional shops, pay online and have them brought to them by neighbors who are also shopping. “This reduces waiting times and makes it possible to see online what regional shops have to offer. It also reduces the time usually spent on grocery shopping because neighbors who are out shopping anyway can simply take the order with them”, explains Stefan Dallinger, Rhein-Neckar district administrator. “Ultimately, it is our goal to strengthen local businesses, reduce transport efforts and, as a second step, create social meeting points in rural areas”, continues Stefan Dallinger.

“The project demonstrates very clearly that applications from research in the field of artificial intelligence can make a significant contribution to solving the challenges our society is facing, such as protecting our climate. If one person brings with them the shopping for two of their neighbors because they are going to the grocery store anyway, two thirds of vehicle emissions can be saved”, explains Dr. Christian Bartelt from the Institute for Enterprise Systems at the University of Mannheim. Dr. Bartelt's research team is developing an intelligent algorithm to predict future routes of people registered for being able to take with them other people’s shopping and to provide them with precisely tailored route suggestions.