Since Pokemon Go was released a couple weeks ago, the app has launched itself into the top tier of apps when you consider daily active users (more people reportedly had Pokemon Go downloaded on their phones than Twitter). The collection of big data in this fashion will have wide-reaching impact on multiple fields. The huge amount of data that corresponds with this massive increase in users has also led some to call for more transparency from Nintendo about where the data is going and what it is being used for. 

Nintendo and Niantic, the company behind the Pokemon Go app, stand to gather large amounts of data concerning user location and movement patterns. The company also plans to introduce wearable technology, which would allow for almost unending amounts of location data to be shared with any company that wishes to pay for it.

The possibilities of using this data for public good are endless

While it can be controversial, the technology behind Pokemon Go is revolutionary in that it changes the way data is collected from users. The technology behind Pokemon Go uses data submitted by users, Google Earth, and data on climate, roadways and urban mapping to determine where Pokemon appear.

This Pokemon Go model can easily be extended to fan engagement at sporting events, music festivals, and conferences but most importantly for us, into disaster response. The same technology could be combined in order to determine areas of greatest need during disasters, as users can be organized into localized groups. It is often difficult in disaster situations to quickly take inventory of need. By allowing users to quickly register location, rescue and relief can occur much more quickly. Users in Pokemon Go are attracted to certain areas in ways that can be emulated by those in other fields. In disaster relief, for example, this technology could be used to highlight where work needs to be done, where shelter can be found and how many victims need to be assisted.

This is exactly the intent of ODF.

Because of the utility of the Operation Dragon Fire app in times of disaster, many users may justify exchanging their identifying information, such as names and email addresses, in order to expedite relief services. Imagine if it was agreed that this type of information would be fed into Operation Dragon Fire. The frequency of use could then be used to track movement of individuals and indicate hotspots of need. Not only would you know more about who was being affected, you would know exactly where they are and what they need. Pokemon Go is having an unexpected impact on culture and gaming, but also in ways probably never foreseen by the creators, such as for lifesaving disaster response.