The MPA recently sent out this letter to members of the increasing threat of trespassers on quarries due to the Pokemon Go app. Please read this and be extra vigilant on your site.
Members may be aware of Pokemon GO, the new free-to-play mobile app, which is already hugely popular despite being only officially launched in the UK on 14 July 2016. Developed by Australian company, Niantic, for iOS or Android devices, the location-based augmented reality mobile game makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices allowing the player to capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokemon which appear on device screens as though in the real world. The game uses real locations and places ‘wild’ Pokemon in random locations for players to collect.
The 700 plus Pokemon are split into types. Notably for members, one group is classed as Rock type which in the ‘lore’ of the game, are typically located in ‘Quarries, Nature Reserves, Hiking Trails, Farmland, Car Parks, Towns and Cities’. This may encourage people to search for quarries and visit them.
Part of the game includes the creation of areas called ‘PokeStops’ or ‘Gyms’ (community areas for restocking, fighting etc) which will attract other users. When they are discovered they tend to be promoted on social media and other specialist media. It is early days so it is not clear what the criteria is for the creation of these sites but it is possible that it is the system picking up high level of gamers at the site (picked up via the mobile activity).
Another type are Water Pokemon which are typically located in Lakes, Sea, Canals etc. Again, this could cause users to seek out water filled voids on either operational or non-operational quarries.
Some members have already reported increased activity at sites so we urge members to be extra vigilant as users, in particular of school/college/university age, are out and about during the summer holidays.
The only true way to find out whether Pokemon are spawning on a quarry or other industrial site is to download the game on a mobile phone and search the area. However, it is possible that this action in itself may be responsible for generating activity on the site that could be picked up by others. At this stage monitoring activity on the site may be a more appropriate course of action and, if individuals are found onsite using mobile phones, asking them whether this is related to the game.
MPA has sent an official email to Niantic making them aware of public safety issues around quarries and the Stay Safe campaign. Companies can also do this by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is also possible to ask for official removal of ‘PokeStops’ and Gyms by contacting: https://support.pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=341148
on a location by location incident but someone needs to have found them at the quarry using the real game on their mobile beforehand, saved the information then submitted to the website.
MPA will also liaise with national bodies representing Fire and Rescue, the Police etc, together with members of the National Water Safety Forum, such as RNLI, Canal and Rivers Trust, RoSPA etc.