Cell towers may go down this weekend, but an SIU alum has developed a mobile application to help visitors and residents get around Carbondale without service.
Jeremy Packer, founder of Packer Labs, launched the SI Eclipse app Monday. The application was sponsored by SIU’s Research Park and it doesn’t need an Internet connect to work.
The app, Packer says, is a useful tool for visitors that will provide information about events, businesses and services in the region. Additionally, Packer says the app will be able to communicate with visitors via push notifications, something he says he is not aware of in other tools available to visitors.
“When cellphone reception is available, which is hopefully all or most of the time, we’ll utilize the app to push notifications to visitors with general information or emergency announcements,” Packer said. “If cellphone connections fail during eclipse weekend, we won’t be able to send out notifications, but people will still be able to use the map and information provided through the offline capabilities we’ve created.”
He said the ability to use the application without Internet service was a “no-brainer.”
“A lot of the information we have on this app isn’t necessarily immediate. It is not going to be changing in real time,” he said. “It allows us to cache these backups of our data that allows you to access it offline.”
Packer, who operates his firm out of the Dunn-Richmond Center, says his firm created this app for free to contribute its part to the massive event that has seen global attention drawn to his Southern Illinois home.
“We developed this app for free and we’re inviting businesses to get listed for free. It’s meaningful that we develop this app and get it into the hands of visitors so that they have all of the information they need, with or without cellphone service,” Packer said.
Packer has been connecting with other organizations in a final push to ensure the app will see distribution to the thousands of visitors expected to in our region.
“We want to be a supplemental resource for Carbondale, SIU, and tourism throughout the region,” he said. “Each organization has their own primary tool, like carbondaleeclipse.com and southernillinoiseclipse.com. We don’t want to take away from that. We want to add to it and make sure that we take care of visitors as best we can.”
Packer plans to have more than 100 events and 300 plus local points of interests available on the app, including local businesses, medical and emergency service providers, and temporary installments such as hydration stations.
“We have essentially won a lottery in the fact that this is happening on our doorstep,” he said. “To be able to utilize the resources and the community to give our visitors a good experience and show what Carbondale means to us — that is so important. Especially, leading to this 2024 date, we want people to come back.”
Visitors and residents have been able to download the app since Monday on Google Play or the Apple Store. For questions about the app you can contact SI Eclipse via Facebook at Facebook.com/SIEclipse, or email them at Help@SIEclipse.com.