Given that Walker County encompasses nearly 450 square miles, getting uniform communication out to the county's roughly 70,000 residents is a challenge.
That's why Lacey Wilson and her colleagues at the Walker County Chamber of Commerce recently released the OneWalker app. The app, available for both iPhone and Android users, compiles business information, job postings, community calendars, coupon opportunities and government information in one convenient location.
The app is completely free to download and use. Since it was rolled out June 16, Wilson said it's gotten over 200 downloads already.
"We realized that Walker County was missing a central form of communication to let people know what was going on," she said. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of events and businesses that go on throughout the county that go unnoticed because people don't know where to look."
Wilson hopes OneWalker will be the solution. The Chamber has coordinated with the county government and the local municipalities to get all relevant information available on the app, she said. Each city has its own page on the app, and either has or is working on making department directories accessible via the app, said Wilson.
In addition, any business in Walker County can be featured on the app free of charge, though Wilson said there are extra benefits for Chamber members, such as links to social media accounts.
Users can enable push notifications so they get notices of job postings or community events as soon as they're posted.
"We're so happy to hear people say, 'This was needed,'" Wilson said. "Being able to keep up with everything going on at your fingertips will be a good thing for Walker County."
The app was created by Bar-Z, a mobile app development company out of Austin, Texas, and was funded by the Chamber. According to Wilson, Bar-Z has made similar apps for Austin as well as Sevierville, Tenn.
As the name implies, OneWalker is meant to bring all the residents of the county together. Wilson recalled one business in LaFayette which, in her words, "did everything right." However, even after newspaper coverage, a regularly updated Facebook page and a ribbon-cutting hosted by the Chamber, Wilson still overheard residents saying they had no idea the business was there.
"We think this will bridge the gap for people to realize what is in their backyard," she said.
The app comes on the heels of Walker County's release of the iWorQ app, made available to the public in April. That app is designed to put users and residents directly in touch with public works and zoning officials for Walker County, enabling citizens to report issues and complaints directly to the relevant departments. Users can even take photos of zoning violations to send to the county.
Walker County Public Relations Director Joe Legge said the county has received roughly 20 reports each month since the app's release.
"This is another tool for the public to use to get in contact with us," Legge said. "We're trying to open and maintain several different forms of communication. For those that prefer to use a smartphone, this is more convenient for them."
For questions or concerns about OneWalker, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 706-375-7702. Questions about the iWorQ app can be directed to the commissioner's office at 706-638-1437.