Pokemon Go and GIS

Pokemon Go is a phenomena the reignited the Pokemon craze in a similar way as the release of the game 18 years ago. The nostalgia bug seems to be biting everyone as people are coming out of the woodwork back into the world of pokemon to collect and battle the original 150 monsters.

This has led to many interesting geospatial developments. The nature of the game requires the user to maintain a constant GPS connection to their smart phone while the app looks for Pokemon and other interactive objects in the augmented reality of the Pokemon GO world.

Esri has its hand in the Pokemon GO pie. They had supported a project called Pokevision which used the Pokemon GO API┬áto project Pokemon in real time as they were spawning around the world. Pokevision’s life was cut short as Niantic, the developers of Pokemon GO announced they weren’t going to support services like this.



The Pokevision website and its map interface

Users have also taken it upon themselves to start crowdsourcing geographic data at a rate that hasn’t ever been seen before. We’ve come a long way since geocaching and you’re more likely than ever to see someone walking around with their head in their phone, following a trail of digital breadcrumbs.

One of the more famous user-generated maps would the one to come out Boston. Supported by google maps and displaying to individual submissions of thousands of users, this map has become the best example of just how much data can be crowdsourced manually.

Unfortunately the map is private so I’m unable to embed it. It supports all the regular Google Maps functionality.


boston map.PNG
Boston’s Crowdsourced Pokemon Go Map

As people get more and more familiar with the geographic aspects of the game, I suspect we’ll see more projects like this emerging. Even now people are fiddling with geographic information more than ever thanks to this game. Hopefully it will bring a new generation of geographic minds into the fold.