Pokémon Go players: A nuisance or your next recruits?

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Have you seen people wandering around with their heads buried deep into their smartphones? A little over two weeks ago, Pokémon Go took over the world as the next big thing in augmented reality by allowing players, or ‘trainers’, to go on a massive scavenger hunt for Pokémon using their phones GPS and cameras. Players move around in the real world trying to find and catch the characters of the game, gyms to train their Pokémon or Pokéstops to buy in-game supplies.

Pokémon Go uses mobile devices’ GPS and camera to integrate the real world into a massive scavenger hunt.

The app uses mobile devices’ GPS and cameras to integrate the real world into a massive search for Pokémon.

However, some very bad incidents have happened around the world involving users of the app who, in their quest, got distracted and  faced some unfortunate situations. For example, four teenagers got stuck underground while searching for Pokémon, after they entered a series of caves known as the Box mines in Wiltshire.

Pokémon Go players were also banned from the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s A&E Department as they were becoming an unwanted distraction and a nuisance to the hospital, and a man in the US crashed his car into a tree while playing the game.

Why is your Fire Station surrounded by players?

By now, you might have encountered several players, or ‘trainers’, around your station looking for Pokémon, Pokéstops, or Pokémon Gyms. 

There’s a reason for that. The company that develops the app, Niantic, uses the game to collect location data, such as alleys, trails and pedestrian bridges, that can later be sold to improve the accuracy of maps and routing.

Fire Stations, Police Departments and Hospitals are among the locations Niantic is interested in mapping. So, it is not by accident that you might be seeing an increase in traffic around your station, as it may be a location of interest for players users, such as a Gym or a so-called Pokéstop.

What can you do about it?

Our most important piece of advice is simple: if players surrounding your station are becoming a problem, you can get your station removed from the game as a Gym or Pokéstop by clicking here.

However, it can also be an opportunity.

Here are some ideas of what you and your crew can do to benefit from the increase in visits to the station and get closer to the community:

Education. Use the opportunity of having trainers close to the station by distributing literature about fire prevention and home safety. You can also give the youngest players tours around the station and inform them about other upcoming activities.

Fundraising. Since many stations are already doing fundraising efforts, ask players to make a small donation to support the Fire Department if they catch a Pokémon around the fire station.

Team Building. Is your station a “Pokémon Gym”? Does your crew have it under control? Challenge your own members to participate in Pokémon Go and capture the fire station and protect it from incoming trainers.

Recruitment. Trainers trying to catch ‘em all? Why don’t you try and catch the next potential volunteer for your station? Have recruitment guides in hand and seize the opportunity of increased traffic to the station to recruit new talent.

Has your station had any good/bad experiences with Pokémon Go players? Feel free to tell your story and share your advice in the comment section!

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