Online Game Culture Helps Cities & Police Engage Citizens

Pokemon GO is giving cities and police an opportunity to engage citizens. Shown is smartphone that shows Pikachu next to a dog, with the dog in the rear of the frame.

From tourism to public health and community policing, Pokemon GO and augmented reality apps can give cities an opportunity to engage citizens.

The Internet and your city just got active (if not into absolute overdrive) with Pokemon GO.

Government employees from mayors to teachers to public works are all dealing with it. Many leaders and police departments are concerned about traffic accidents with pedestrians and injuries caused by people walking into each other, obstacles or even public transportation.

But they are also playing it.

Pokemon go-garbage men from pokemongo


But the app-slash-game that might beat Snapchat in popularity may be a real opportunity for local governments to engage their citizens. Here’s why.

Pokemon GO Brings out the Tourist in its Players

Some Pokemon GO players are waxing poetic on the unexpected, unique discoveries citizens and groups of citizens make while playing.

In Stoke-on-Trent, England,the local council is taking its cue and may invest £170k in an augmented reality signage discovery app for residents and visitors, according to the Stoke Sentinel.

Pokemon GO could be a great way for cities, towns and counties to spike tourism.

Pokemon GO Gets People Walking

You can also lose weight while having fun and getting out in city parks, such as 700 people that attended an organized Pokemon GO game on July 17th at Tacoma, Wash.’s, Defiance Park.

Jesus Areyano loves Pokemon and wouldn’t mind being in better shape,” writes Hannah Shirley of one of the organizers in the News Tribune.

The big game in Tacoma actually broke Pokemon GO for two hours. And people got a good workout.

Mashable has learned that Fitbit users are raising their weekend steps upwards of 60 percent playing Pokemon GO.

In addition to Tacoma, other cities are planning similar Pokemon GO events, like College Station, Texas, and Ardmore, Ok. In Ardmore, the police and parks and recreation department are actually co-hosting a two-night Pokémon GO event later this week.

The game could be a great way to get people walking more often and could improve public health.

Pokemon GO Brings People and Police Together

Citydwellers and others are finding hope because they say Pokemon GO brings neighbors together.

Something about the sheer silliness of cute cartoon monsters interposed over our lonely realities seems to break the bubbles we’ve built around ourselves,” writes Sarah Jeong in the New York Times.

While the police have to write tickets and deal with any fallout from the game’s play, one police chief has decided to leverage Pokemon GO as a tool.

Police stations across the country have been urged by the Community Oriented Policing Services office of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is implementing the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, to find ways to better connect with communities. Building trust is actually the first pillar in the task force guidance.

So, when a resident asked, Chief Douglas Holland agreed to have the Hyattsville, Md., police station become a Pokemon GO stop and filled out the paperwork.

There are still some folks, some of them not a whole lot younger than me, who enjoy Pokémon.  And if we can use it as a tool to help people feel more comfortable with us, more at ease with us, stop by the station,” Holland told Hyattsville Today.

It could be a great way for people to get to know police and improve camaraderie.

Pokemon GO Brings City and Country Together

The desire to play Pokemon GO is hitting rural areas in a different way. They want it and are petitioning for portals near them, according to a popular post on Reddit. They feel the fun should be more than just for folks in cities.

Local government officials in these areas could find ways to give citizens what they want and engage them.


About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.