Niantic and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a new community initiative aimed at fostering civic engagement throughout the United States with the help of the San Francisco-based studio's games Pokemon GO and Ingress, as revealed by a press release sent to media outlets earlier this week. The program will be focused on augmented reality (AR) experiences as it will seek to explore ways in which this emerging technology can promote and facilitate public engagement, the new partners revealed, adding that Niantic's location tracking solutions and games will serve as the backbone of all community events that will be organized as part of the initiative.
The program is currently set to encompass events held in numerous cities throughout the country, the Miami, Florida-based nonprofit said, specifically mentioning its Open Streets happenings as being part of the newly introduced initiative. The Knight Foundations previously organized events designed to promote public discourse and civic engagement in a number of environments, and its partnership with Niantic will expand the scope of those activities to libraries, parks, and other public spaces, the organization said. In addition to hosting a number of unique events, the initiative will also see Niantic improve the Knight Foundation-organized happenings by intertwining them with Pokemon GO and Ingress, the partners revealed, though they are yet to provide specific details on the matter.
The first product of this collaboration will be the Open Streets 704 event that's taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina tomorrow, May 7. The event will allow players to follow a 2.5-mile route with 16 Poke Stops and two Poke Gyms that will be physically marked in the city in an effort to create a more immersive experience. Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke said that the studio was initially founded with the ambition to drive community change, implying that its new partnership with the Knight Foundation is a natural extension of that endeavor. The initiative is currently set to last for at least a year, though it's possible that Niantic and the Florida nonprofit will extend it in the future, provided that the initial feedback they receive is a positive one.