Elisabeth Lisican is editor-in-chief of Water & Wastes Digest. Lisican can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1012.
Jul 29, 2016

Augmented Reality Spells Opportunity for Water

Everyone’s talking about it, and now Pokemon Go has made its way onto the pages of W&WD.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (don’t worry, there are likely Pokemon there, too), you’ve likely heard by now about the wildly popular gaming app that takes users out into the real world chasing and “catching” virtual Pokemon characters thanks to GPS. The overnight success of the app prompted restaurants and other businesses to get in on the action once they realized there could be dollars tied to those cuddly-looking creatures—promoting their establishments as great spots to “catch ‘em all.” It’s quickly become apparent that, while the game might just be a fad, it could mean a brand-new way to interface with the masses.

But there’s a lot more to be gained than restaurant patrons. One Reddit user wrote, “I am working at a wastewater treatment plant for the summer and it has been awesome for playing Pokemon Go.” Indeed, water and wastewater facilities and utilities can work Pokemon Go activities into their public outreach efforts, too: for example, into special events like plant tours. Children, of course, might be most enthused, but it’s important to note that people of all ages play the game (although admittedly this editor has yet to catch a Pokemon ...).

In addition to fostering civic engagement, the game offers a unique glimpse into the future of augmented reality—which proves relevant to our industry when it comes to concepts like smart cities. And I don’t even need to explain the buzz that can be created around incorporating Pokemon Go into promotional efforts at industry events and trade shows ...

Of course, anything popular enough to be deemed a craze will always have its downsides, too. Amid reports of misadventures like muggings and minor car accidents, it’s important to communicate to your stakeholders the importance of remaining aware of one’s surroundings.There are also a few precautions that system owners may want to consider: Because some especially avid Pokemon players are willing to go to great lengths to “catch ‘em all,” (and there are a whole host of water Pokemon that hang out by water bodies), make sure you don’t have to catch any master Pokemon trainers wandering around unsafe areas near your facilities. Educate the public on safe vs. unsafe Pokemon-ing.

Lastly, we want to hear from you: Has your organization tried Pokemon Go; and if so, are you considering integrating it or any other types of gaming into any special projects or ongoing efforts? Email [email protected] or Tweet us @WWDMag.

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