The idea came while watching the news on march 20th, shortly after Germany announced strict lockdown measures due to COVID 19. We have seen long queues at grocery stores in other countries on the news, but we couldn't imagine that this will become reality in Berlin. The safest distance between citizens to reduce the infection risk to almost zero is approx. 2 meters. But how to achieve that if places like stores, clinics and pharmacies are crowded? The answer in most cases is by simply closing them. This is what happened to the vast majority of restaurants and bars as well as to other small businesses in the city centers of cities worldwide. But this is not how it necessarily has to be.
What it does
With 2meters we have built a visitor density management tool which allows to reduce infection risk in grocery stores, public places like parks & museums, at clinics and pharmacies by controlling the amount of visitors per area and time.
2meters is very simple to use. You can look for locations on a map, search for them, or scan a QR code when stumbling upon them on the streets. You can line up by picking a free time slot which suits you best if you want to visit the location later, or just digitally line up in a queue and wait until its your turn if you are in a hurry. You will be notified in advance, so you can wait at home or take the chance for a walk.
With 2meters everybody can create locations and queues wherever needed, whenever needed. It just takes a minute.
2meters is much more than a queuing solution for grocery stores. If you like to go for a run, you have certainly noticed how crowded the common running areas are at the moment. 2meters solves this problem by allowing to reserve running slots in defined areas and by controlling how many registered runners are currently inside the boundaries. Governmental authorities can use 2meters to reduce infection risks in public areas while maintaining the living standard of the citizens.
How we built it
We have quickly built a team of five. Three developers and two people with a business background and started to develop our ideas. The main design driver was simplicity. We had several calls to sharpen the profile and the developers started to quickly build an MVP. We then found out about the #codevscovid19 hackathon which was about to start very soon and decided to participate. During the hackathon we have had a fruitful exchange with enthusiastic and smart people who helped us to develop the idea further. This is e.g. how the outdoor areas have been included into the concept.
Challenges we ran into
There is no black magic behind 2meters. From the technical point of view, everything is crystal clear. Challenges were mainly associated with keeping the app simple and not loosing the focus. There are dozens of potential features one could implement in an app like 2meters, especially in the context of the corona pandemic. But to make the app useful for as many people as possible, it must remain very straightforward with bulletproof functionality, understandable for everyone. On the way we had a lot of ideas, each potentially worth a dedicated application, but we had to sacrifice most of them. This was a challenge.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
It is too early to be proud of something. We are certainly proud to have participated in a hackathon related to such an important thing like fighting a pandemic. We are proud that we interacted with very smart, very motivated and selfless people. Some of the solutions developed in parallel to ours are top notch technology. And if ours as well will contribute a little bit to making peoples lives better again, then we will have a reason to be proud.
What we learned
We learned that "meters" is used in American English only, and all other english speaking countries use "metres" instead. But it was too late.
What's next for 2meters
We have decided to build 2meters because we believe it is useful. With the MVP in hands, we will contact retail stores, small businesses but also governmental institutions to see if our solution can facilitate their lives. Our goal is to produce some small success stories, which we can then use to talk to supermarket chains, big DIY shops and more. A sufficient amount of business users is required to make the application attractive for individuals. On the technical side, we will work on adding a WhatsApp chatbot support. It will allow users to have the same functions without installing the application. We will also further refine the applications frontend. We do not intend to monetize the solution any time soon, this is why we do not collect any data from our users. Time will show where this journey will lead us.
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