Have you seen more people than usual wandering around outside looking at their phones? They're playing Pokémon Go, a new location-based augmented reality game released on July 7, 2016, that is insanely popular. Within three days of its release, Pokémon Go attracted more users than Twitter, and it's already considered the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. But without core Geographic Information System (GIS) functionality, which the City uses every day, Pokémon Go couldn't exist.
Pokémon Go uses the GPS technology available on your mobile device and GIS data like maps, geolocation, geofencing, and spatial analytics to find your real-world location, layer augmented reality on top of it and display exotic animated Pokémon in your environment. Your primary job as a player is to explore your real-world surroundings to come across and capture these Pokémon.
You'll quickly discover that Pokémon are all around you. They are programmed into GIS software as points on a map that specify exactly where each Pokémon should appear. Spatial analytics was used to understand the context of these points so that players could find something like a sandshrew in a desert-like environment and a seadra if they're near water.
The City also uses spatial analytics to maintain the Chesapeake Maps & Apps service that will show you geospatial data such as the speed limit for any City street or your storm surge zone.
To advance in Pokémon Go you'll need to locate Pokestops where you collect helpful items and track down Gyms that you can conquer. Pokestops and Gyms are typically neighborhood landmarks like churches, unique architectural sites, or libraries. These locations were initially crowd-sourced from players of Ingress, a similar game launched in 2011 by the creators of Pokémon Go. Ingress required portal locations and the game makers first based those locations on historic places. For instance, you'll find that many of the City's historic sites are Pokestops or Gyms in Pokémon Go.
Wanting to expand the availability of portals, they asked Ingress players to submit portal suggestions. They received 15 million submissions and used about 5 million of them as a starting point for designating Gyms and Pokestops in Pokémon Go. When MapQuest and Google Maps were starting out, they similarly requested maps and data from the City they could use to help build their applications.
So when you're walking around playing Pokemon Go or bumping into others that are playing, remember, an impressive GIS mapping engine is key to its success and your City has similar technology that's available for you to use every day for free.