What Pokémon GO Can Teach Energy & Sustainability Managers

Urjanet Inc  |  July 15, 2016   |  Energy & Sustainability  


Pokémon GO is the hottest trending topic today, and for good reason. The app is already rivaling Twitter in number of users, just within its first week. But less often talked about is its predecessor, Ingress. Ingress was a similar form of augmented-reality multi-player game, also created by Niantic, with a much smaller user base. So what lessons do these two games have to offer?

According to Bloomberg, “Pokémon Go used Ingress as its foundation, building off a data set collected over two and a half years. The data helped determine the placement of PokeStops and Pokémon Gyms that pepper the game’s landscape, often in public spaces such as bars and parks.” Over time, Ingress players “provided Niantic with locations which they thought would be excellent portals, with 15 million worldwide submissions in all.”

Creators of the game also had a wealth of data from Google Earth at their fingertips. Both portal locations for Ingress and PokeStop locations for Pokémon GO were based on data pulled from geo-tagged photos on Google.

Take a minute and contrast this with the plight facing Energy and Sustainability Managers. For those trying to go it alone without the aid of an automated utility data aggregation service, there is no centralized database to help them manage hundreds of locations across thousands of utility accounts. Energy and Sustainability Managers have to collect and organize all the data themselves for advanced energy management and sustainability reporting.

Whether through strategic planning or amazing luck, Pokémon GO’s success can be attributed not only to the masses of loyal Pokémon followers, but also to the data underlying its visual interface. Without this vast source of data to draw from, Pokémon GO could not have gathered so much popularity and engaged users with so many exciting features as instantly as it did.

Along the same lines, Energy and sustainability program success can be attributed not merely to the tools and dashboards analyzing and displaying data, but also to the data itself. Without a rich source of timely data, automatically provided and “submitted” to a central location, the tools and visualizations don’t mean much.

The more rich and complete of a data set you have at your fingertips, the more you can do with your data. Pokémon GO uses mapping data to assign values to locations based on environmental factors such as water, climate, and vegetation. Data sets based on the geographic classification of an area are then used to place various Pokémon species in their appropriate habitats. For instance, the game is designed based on geographic data so that “water-type Pokémon like Magikarp and Squirtles should appear near water.”

Just as Pokémon GO utilizes geo-tagging data to strategically choose Pokémon placements, Energy and Sustainability managers should be utilizing data on their energy usage patterns, tariffs, and internal project performance to strategically choose investments and priorities. Energy and sustainability initiatives can even be optimized based on their appropriate “habitats” just like Pokémons are, if energy managers take advantage of historical and weather-normalized data to inform their strategy.

There are significant lessons to be learned from this simple game that’s captivating the entire planet. In some ways, Pokémon GO had it easy; a group of dedicated Ingress users were willing to submit data into a global platform to make the future user experience better. The Pokémon GO team was also able to rely on comprehensive mapping data from Google Earth.

Energy and Sustainability Managers can have it easy, too, if they utilize a service that collects, standardizes, and delivers all that rich data for them. If you’re ready to find out how Urjanet can power your energy management or sustainability program, contact us today.

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About Urjanet Inc

Urjanet, the global leader in utility data aggregation, simplifies how organizations access and use utility data, enabling them to focus on their business. Our technology collects, processes, and delivers data from over 6,500 electric, natural gas, water, waste, telecom, and cable utilities worldwide.

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