‘A lot of people didn’t know how far 5k was’ - KM From Home ready for Level 5

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James Cox
As Ireland prepares to enter Level 5 for a period of six weeks, people are getting to grips with the idea of a 5km travel restriction again.

Back in March, there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty among people as the idea of a lockdown was all new and the travel restriction was even smaller in a 2km distance from homes.

A software developer from Wexford called Dave Bolger decided to use his skills to launch a handy tool to help people see exactly how far they could go and the site, which he called www.2kmfromhome.com (KM From Home) quickly went viral.

Mr Bolger spoke to BreakingNews.ie about how it gathered pace, and how he expects it to be widely used again as we enter Level Five.

I'm getting loads of messages from people saying, 'we didn't expect to have to use this ever again,' but here we are!

"I'd been working on a mapping software project and my wife just turned to me as we watched the Taoiseach's announcement on March 28th and said 'where's 2km from here?' I spent an hour or two throwing something together and I was able to throw the circle up and show her. I decided I'd put it up online so I spent another couple of hours working on a website. I then put out the link on Twitter.

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"The next morning before I had a chance to send it to family or friends they were texting me saying, 'look at this site, it's really great'. There was 8,000 people on it by 8am that morning and there was 14,000 or so on it at any one time that day, by that evening there had been 800,000 on the site."

All the site requires is users' location and it can be used to plot out any distance from that location.

Mr Bolger saw the website grow as it was shared on various forms of social media and it was picked up all over the world in countries such as Australia, South Africa and France.

"The current lockdown in Melbourne, where the permitted distance has been extended to 25km from 5km, has resulted in a lot of new users for KM From Home.

"The website is being used over there extensively, we've had over 600,000 people from Melbourne using it over the weekend to check their 25km distance.

"It's been used all over the world during lockdowns in South Africa, France and Spain in the last couple of months. It's been picked up and used throughout the world, because you can put in any distance people can go in and find it for whatever their local restrictions are."

Meanwhile, The site has already had another spike in traffic in Ireland after Micheál Martin's announcement on Monday evening.

"I'm getting loads of messages from people saying, 'we didn't expect to have to use this ever again,' but here we are! It's just a simple tool to help people.

"We've had a huge amount of traffic from Ireland from when Level 5 was mooted on Sunday, there's been large numbers of people (up to 2,000 at any one time) looking to check their distance again. There's sustained traffic throughout the day and a large amount of people using it.

"A lot of people came back to us and said they previously didn't know how far the 5km was. I think in the initial lockdown everyone was frightened, they didn't know anything about this and how it would affect them. To be suddenly told you can't go 2km from your home, I think everybody just felt really frightened and trapped maybe.

"The feedback I was getting at that point was 'oh, there's actually lots to do in 2km. I can go for a run, a cycle, there's a lot to do. When that went to 5km there were even more people using it to map where they could run or cycle within their 5km.

"They felt like they could still do a lot of their exercise and get that in within their space."

Mr Bolger is hoping the site can be a help to people as we prepare for a difficult six weeks.

"Back on the 28th of March there was 14,000-15,000 at any time. Three and half million people have now used it since we launched.

"After the initial panic people have a feel of it but they use it for their daily exercise and we get big peaks with announcements like the one on Monday night.

"When you build software you want people to use it, to enjoy using it, that's a big kick out of it for us, just the fact that it's helping people out there. Back in the initial lockdown it gave people who felt desperate a bit of relief. If you can build something that helps people, that's a fantastic feeling."

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