Pokemon Go Could Revolutionize Disaster Relief

By turning it into a game
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2016 5:55 PM CST
Pokemon Go Could Revolutionize Disaster Relief
A fan maneuvers his smartphone as he plays Pokemon Go in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(Newser) – Pokemon Go could save us all. Smithsonian Magazine reports the popular mobile game, and others like it, could be a force for good—and not just distracted injuries and surprise discoveries—during emergencies. Picture this: A major hurricane strikes the East Coast, and Pokemon Go switches into "Red Cross mode." Instead of hunting down virtual monsters, users are rewarded for donating blood, evacuating affected areas, handing out emergency supplies, making donations, offering temporary housing, and more. It would be like the emergency broadcast system, except that it would actually mobilize a community response to a disaster instead of just interrupting television shows.

"Gamification" had already been shown to be able to make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise, from recovering from injury, to learning a language, to reducing electricity usage. "Maybe all Pokemon Go players need is a little nudge in the direction of emergency response tasks when disaster strikes," Smithsonian Magazine states. One of the problems with this plan is spotty cell service during many emergencies, but technology is already being developed to address that. "By combining advances in augmented reality games with the sharing economy...we could be poised on the threshold of a revolution in disaster response that empowers the public to follow their natural helpful instincts in response to all kinds of crises," Smithsonian Magazine concludes. Read the full story here. (Read more Pokemon Go stories.)

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