Pokemon GO…. Away! Mobile Game Can Spell Headaches for Private Residential Communities.
After writing this blog for well over a decade, I often think that I have covered every conceivable topic which can impact shared ownership communities. Almost inevitably, just when I start thinking this is the case something new crops up like drones or, more recently, locating, battling and capturing virtual creatures called Pokemon.
Recently a condominium board called me to discuss a new security risk in their community. When I inquired if the risk pertained to infrastructure deficiencies (inadequate lighting at night, overgrown landscaping, etc.) or recent criminal activity such as vandalism or theft I heard something entirely new: “there is a PokeStop just outside the entrance to our community.”
I had a vague familiarity with what appears to be the biggest fad of Summer, 2016 as several of my friends and relatives are enthusiastic participants in this augmented reality game played on mobile devices. Apparently, participants find a variety of these creatures and other game-related goodies at locations called PokeStops which have been assigned this status by the game’s maker, Niantic.
Unfortunately for my client in question, the entrance to their community had been randomly listed as a PokeStop which meant that over the course of the prior week, hundreds of people were milling outside their entrance looking at their phones and not the incoming or outgoing traffic from the community. Needless to say, this situation presented a real concern for the community and its inhabitants. In addition to creating possible security risks given that most players are entranced by their virtual surroundings and not their physical location when at a PokeStop or Gym (a place where virtual battles occur) there are also just locations that do not lend themselves to a whimsical game like Pokemon Go; for example, the National Holocaust Museum would not seem to be the best fit for this kind of activity.
A little research revealed that it is possible to request that a PokeStop be removed. However, it is also possible to request a specific PokeStop location. For some residents intent on creating mayhem in a community, this might be an innovative new way to rile up the neighborhood. For those of you like me who never thought you would have to discuss virtual creatures in the context of community security, think again and check out whether or not you might have one of these locations near you. To remove a PokeStop that might be impacting your community, you can visit the Niantic site.