Pokémon Go(vernment)

Within seconds of opening the Pokémon Go app, my two kids found a Squirtle in the living room and a Bulbasaur in the backyard.

DigitalGov has a great synopsis of what all this could mean for government, as well as a great reminder of government’s limitations on self-created engagement strategies:

For years, agencies like the National Park Service have struggled with how to engage with and encourage younger, tech-savvy audiences to get outside and #FindYourPark. Suddenly, over the weekend, our parks are besieged by Pokémon hunters, exploring all the nooks and crannies of our parks on their quest to “catch ’em all.”

For those focused on civic technology, Pokémon Go shatters the notion that an application whose brand and sole objective is civic-focused may never be as powerful and well-used as one tied into one with a consumer focus.

It’s also a reminder to government that, when it comes to digital, should focus on its core mission and not on building stand-alone apps that attempt to get wide-scale usage. Instead, it should immerse itself where users already are, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Nextdoor and now potentially Pokémon Go. The great thing about this is that these are free to leverage and only require creativity.

It also shows the influence Silicon Valley has (Pokémon Go was created by San Francisco-based Niantic), even when it’s creating something not intended to save the world, in connecting us to civics and government services.

While it remains to be seen whether Pokémon Go will sustain long-term, and how it can impact engagement around government services and public parks, it’s clear there’s potential, and the governments that get on board will become more and more relevant to those they serve.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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