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At a time when metro area health officials are mandating caps on how many people can be in one business at one time, waiting in line is becoming a larger part of daily life in Colorado. Queues are forming outside grocery stores, restaurants with bundles of to-go orders waiting to be picked up — even at hair salons and shops.

With that in mind, an Erie-based tech firm has developed, an online tool that allows companies to digitally manage how many people are inside their stores while allowing customers to hold a spot in line without leaving their cars.

The tagline for is “social distancing made safer.” The platform isn’t being used at any business today, but the company behind it, Latitude Digital, has high hopes for how useful it can be amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“One of the things that is important about this is that it helps both sides of the experience,” Tony Gambee, Latitude’s founder and CEO, said. “On the one hand, it’s extremely convenient for the customer. And it also helps frontline workers.”

JoinOurLine is a software-as-a-service platform maintained and supported by Latitude and its staff of about a dozen people. All a customer has to do is bring up the website or click on a link to it from the website of the business they are visiting and they can join the digital line, getting a number like one would at a deli counter. No downloading an app, and no putting in any personal information, Gambee emphasized.

For a business, meanwhile, it operates as a digital counter, giving the person monitoring the crowd inside a readout of the store’s capacity and how many people are waiting in line. From the business-facing side of the site, the person monitoring capacity can give people waiting to come inside the green light when others leave, either individually or in a group.

“Just the fact that the physical line is not there protects the person working the door and people coming in and out because there is not that mass of bodies there,” Gambee said.

Gambee points to a recent McKinsey survey of retail executives that found that, in addition to cleaning stores more, ensuring safe distancing between customers is a top priority when it comes to promoting customer and employee safety during the pandemic.

Latitude Digital has been in talks with a chain of small-box sporting goods stores about using JoinOurLine, and Gambee hopes that the Krogers and Costcos of the world might give him a call. In the meantime, the company is offering its software free of charge to nonprofit organizations including food banks and independent small businesses. As long as the business has only one location (or even a few in the right circumstances) Gambee is encouraging business owners to reach out to him about using

“We don’t have the skills to create an antibody test but we can write some software,” Gambee said of his firm’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19. “If we can give this back to a few places or even hundreds of small businesses like us, I can’t think of anything more exciting.”

Gambee encouraged business owners to email him at or call him at 248-787-6898.

This content was originally published here.