Pokemon Go

Pokemon not welcomed here: Hospital Authority wants game banned from premises

In-game items have also been found at sensitive landmarks or inappropriate locations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 10:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 10:41pm

The Hospital Authority is seeking help from the developer of Pokemon Go to ban the game at all public hospitals after crowds have flocked to play it on the premises.

Pokemon, Pokestops and Gyms – all features in the game – have also been found appearing at sensitive landmarks or inappropriate locations, according to a search by the Post based on data collected from Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go .

In a circular released by the authority to its staff yesterday, employees were reminded not to play the game while at work or within hospital areas so as to avoid disrupting patients who are seeking medical treatment.

The statement said: “With the release of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go in Hong Kong, some public areas including public hospitals have been thronged with crowds.”

The authority said it would also write to Niantic to request to “remove game elements” from public hospitals.

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Niantic could not be reached by press time, but its website has an option for users to submit a form requesting for the removal of a Pokestop or Gym, which are fixed locations players can go to pick up free Pokemon items or battle other game users.

Gyms are locations where users belonging to different teams battle each other. Lures can also be used to entice Pokemon to show up in these spots, meaning that such locations tend to have a higher chance of Pokemon-crazed crowds gathering.

The police force’s management in the New Territories North also released an internal reminder to officers.

“Playing of this app on the police premises or in the police vehicles is not permitted, whether on or off duty. This [is] also applied to any members of the public that enter the police premises,” the notice said.

The game was deemed to pose a security risk as it may compromise the locations of users.

“This particularly applies to officers conducting ambush duty, raids or surveillance where it is possible for the ambush team’s location, or safe house to be disclosed.”

Other agencies – from the Fire Services Department to the Government Flying Service – currently forbid their officers to use mobile phones for personal purposes while on duty, according to their internal guidelines.

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The Civil Service Bureau said “all civil servants are expected at all times to exercise due diligence in carrying out their duties”.

The People’s Liberation Army declined to comment, only saying that their premises are closed military zones.

This comes as the Post, using third party website Pokevision, was able to track Pokemon in the vicinity of the Legislative Council building, public hospitals and in front of the PLA barracks in Admiralty.

Pokevision is a website that displays a real-time map showing where and how long a Pokemon appears anywhere around the world, using data intercepted from the game’s servers.

The website was created earlier this month shortly after the game was released in the US.

The Post also looked at another map, built based on crowdsourced data from Niantic, which showed all fixed locations of Pokestops and Gyms across the city.

At least 14 Pokestops or Gyms were found near or inside the Legislative Council building and Central Government offices.

Six were found within the vicinity of PLA barracks, while six others were found at a Christian cemetery in Pok Fu Lam.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Cheung, Christy Leung and Lauren Chan