Ireland: Citizens asked to play ‘Pokémon Go’ to help fight homelessness

pokemon-1543353_960_720An interactive platform that allows people to map their surroundings online is being used by a homelessness charity to locate vacant properties around Dublin and the rest of the country.

Reusing Dublin is an interactive web-mapping platform developed by digital solutions social enterprise Space Engagers as part of an EU funded research project.

It is currently being hosted by the Peter McVerry Trust to raise awareness of homelessness and identify potential projects where properties in Dublin could be brought back into use.

So far active citizens have helped to locate 40,000 vacant properties in the city that could be regenerated for homeless people.

Social entrepreneur and urban planning expert Phillip Crowe, who set up Space Engagers, told the Irish Examiner: “We started with a platform called Reusing Dublin, which is basically a crowd-sourced platform where people put up vacant and unused spaces onto a map.

“We’ve got thousands of people following us and the mapping seemed to have some effect in terms of engaging people with the issue.

“We call ourselves a version of Pokémon Go with a social conscience.”

Mr Crowe added: “You can engage in a number of different projects on the app.

“You take a picture and the picture is geotagged and goes on to a map.

“You take individual pieces of information and individual observations and you put them into a collective space.

“When you put them into a collective space you get an overall picture.

“We started applying it to urban regeneration projects.”

The Dublin arm of the project, Reusing Dublin was initially developed by Mr Crowe and his colleague Aoife Corcoran as part of an EU-funded project called Turas (Transitioning towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability).

Last year, their project ended but its achievement was spotted by the Peter McVerry Trust, which engaged with the researchers.

It will now be used by the housing charity to create a campaign platform.

“The campaign will concentrate on the need to increase housing supply and availability as well as improve land and property management systems,” said a spokesperson for the Peter McVerry Trust.

“Ultimately, it is hoped that the campaign will result in a number of positive social impacts, as well as delivering an improved urban environment.”

The most recent figures show a record total of 8,270 people homeless in Ireland, made up of 5,222 adults and 3,048 children.