41. Geospatial Friday - Pokémon Go reinvents Spatial Planning (Pt.2)


Just like Pokémon, geospatial professionals and spatial planners come in all shapes, colours and sizes. What's is becoming increasingly apparent is that these distinct groups are likely to interact with each other alot more in the future.

The following is a continuation of last week's post entitled:

"Pokémon reinvents Spatial Planning"


It will take a closer look at what is involved in planning for spaces which are compatible with the real and virtual worlds and for the people who inhabit them. This post will highlight the types of spatial challenges undertaken by planners as well as some of the geospatial superpowers required to advance to the next level.



Economic Development

Planners are in the business of helping others create jobs and make money. Sustainable economic development is a consideration which underpins planning activity and spatial planners try to ensure that businesses and industries can develop, survive and thrive in a particular location.

So what does this have to do with gaming and augmented reality? Because this technology has the potential to direct people to particular places, there is an opportunity for planners to encourage business development around these new visitors. Planners could, for example, through effective use of geospatial data and tools develop policies which allow seasonal or geographically flexible businesses based on the type and duration of gaming activity taking place.


Protecting Communities and Local Identities

Protecting and enhancing the identity of neighbourhoods is of utmost importance to local community members and spatial planners are responsible for safeguarding these interests. With the arrival of augmented reality games such as Pokémon Go this may involve ensuring that quiet neighbourly streets do not become battlegrounds for Pokémon hunters…young and old. It’s for this reason that planners should start considering these augmented reality ‘realities’ the next time they devise land-use zoning categories and divisions.


Transport Planning

Spatial Planners are concerned with a range of infrastructure and services including transport networks. These networks are designed to facilitate ease for movement between places and safety is of utmost importance.

Since augmented reality game makers are building another layer of reality ontop of the real world, planners should at least be aware of the safety and disruption risks posed by the existence of this virtual world.  This will require more than the development of warnings and disclaimers by game developers. Instead, all parties involved in transport planning will need to have a solid understanding of the mapping datasets and systems which are used to 'augment' the locality.


Urban Design and Accessibility

As mentioned in the section about local economic development, Pokémon Go is bringing people to places that they may otherwise never visit. This is assuming that the places in question are accessible to all people.

Geospatial systems and data can be used by urban designers and developers to ensure that public and private spaces are accessible and allow for un-deterred movement. This may include the recording and mapping of urban design features and assets such as wheelchair ramps, railings and pedestrian crossings.


Natural and Cultural Environment

If people take interest and pride in a place then it is more likely to be used and protected. This point is well accepted by spatial planners and it is the reason why vibrant cities and towns contain parks, cultural artifacts and other amenities. Pokémon Go demonstrates how another 'layer of interest' can be used to attract people to places and thereby promote active citizenship and healthy lifestyles.

There is massive potential for planners and geospatial developers to make use of public and in-house datasets in order develop even more 'layers of interest' and to thereby create high quality and attractive spaces.

Anything is possible.