When it comes to creating new PokéStops or gyms, also referred to as points of interest (POI) in Pokémon GO, no one has it harder than the rural trainer. As a semi-rural player myself, I wanted to try to share some of the ways I’ve managed to add more POI in the game in my area, so you can hopefully do the same.
I mention S2 cells occasionally throughout the article, which I later have a whole section dedicated to. I fully appreciate that there are only limited things that can be submitted, so while I hope you find this advice helpful on your POI hunt, I also know it can be tremendously frustrating to just not be able to find anything to submit. I call myself ‘semi-rural’ as I live in a village, but trainers who are out in really isolated areas may struggle to find something to submit at all, never mind multiple POI. My aim is to help you figure out a way to hopefully come up with some new ideas, or something you might not have thought of before. Good luck rural trainers, we need it!
In order to begin submitting PokéStops you need:
- to have reached level 37 in Pokémon GO
- to not be using a child account
You’ll find the option to submit a PokéStop in your settings.
Get to Know your Area
First things first, you need to get to know your local area to be able to find those hidden POI you might not have otherwise known about it. Explore different areas, footpaths, and routes you might not normally walk, and who knows what you might find. In rural areas, we have to hunt a bit more to see what we can discover. If you are incredibly rural, take to Google, are there local walks or trails that may have trail markers you didn’t know about? Is there anything of historical significance in your village that may have a plaque or marker somewhere? Even in areas that seem to only have houses, there may be secret things you didn’t know about.
For example, in an area near where I live, a fellow trainer recently took a walk a different way to their usual, and noticed a little sign on some railings along the footpath. On closer inspection, it was a plaque mentioning an ancient moat. She’d never seen it before, but was being eagle-eyed hoping to come across something new, and she did! That area now has not only a new PokéStop, but a new gym has appeared on one of the old PokéStops.
If you live in a small village, you may have a local group who are interested in the history of the area who run a group on social media, consider joining and learning from them to potentially find some real hidden gems in your area. Another personal example for this, one of the villages in my county was recently able to gain 2 new PokéStops when a footpath through the village was named after a local historical figure, and two small plaques were put up, one at each end of the cutting. We not only got to learn something new, but were able to use it to our advantage in GO thanks to the history buffs in the village working with their small parish council to promote village history! There may also be groups who work to beautify areas through new permanent flower arrangements, if they have plaques or things like carts, they can be submitted. Maybe suggest a new spot you think could be improved with a new display.
What can you submit?
This example list is taken directly from the Niantic Wayfarer website, and isn’t comprehensive, but is a good place to start.
- Historic plaques
- Unique Art or Architecture
- Public Libraries
- Public places of worship
- Museums and galleries
- Community gardens
- Historical gravestones
- Nature signs
- Unusual or unique local shops
- Parks and plazas
- Public Gardens
- Named Forest Signs
- Hiking trails
- Biking trails
- Exercise equipment in public spaces
- Sport arenas
- Sport fields
- Post Offices
- Gaming/Comic stores
- Libraries (including free little libraries on public spaces)
- Parks and plazas
- Fountains and water features
- Famous transit stations
- Popular restaurants
- Favourite coffee shops
In terms of potential POI you might find in a more rural area, many areas have plaques and war memorials, even in very small villages. Memorial benches or benches commemorating events are also fairly common in rural communities. Trail markers are a great opportunity for multiple submissions, as each trail marker can be submitted individually, as long as they are unique from each other (sadly just an arrow doesn’t count as a good enough POI). Does the village shop have a Post Office? Submit! Is there an independently owned shop or pub? Submit! Coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and charity shops, all can be submitted. Is there a bridge with a name? Submit! Footbridges, railway bridges, and bridges with roads over can all be submitted.
Permanent decorative flower arrangements? In the UK for example, we have the ‘In Bloom’ competition that many rural villages and areas will compete in, which means small communities will decorate their area with permanent flower arrangements in historical carts, and other notable items, these can be submitted because they aren’t seasonal.
Is there any graffiti or street art that could be a submission? Many electrical boxes on streets are now decorated to beautify areas, if yours aren’t, maybe look into how they could be (legally) decorated to make your area more fun! Parks may have trees carved into animals, or have designs cut out of them, or other wooden ornaments. Art can be hidden in surprising places!
Many rural areas also have signs showing village names, even when there may only be a handful of houses in the village. There may be a sign at each entrance to your village, and as long as these can safely be accessed on foot, they can be submitted. Other signs can also be submitted, like informational signs historical signs, keep an eye out on your adventures, you never know when a new one may appear.
Notice boards are a common sight in rural villages and are a great submission. Does your local religious building have a notice board? Potentially both the religious building itself, and the notice board, could be two different POI.
Is there some sort of community centre or village hall? Any sort of venue that hosts community events or classes is an ideal submission. Many smaller areas will have some sort of religious building, it may not be used for religious purposes any longer, but it is historical, so can be submitted as long as it isn’t a private residence.
Play areas and parks can be submitted, and with careful planning using S2 cells, multiple POI can be in one park. Does it have more than one entrance with a sign? Submit each sign individually with the entrance labelled, i.e. west and east. Depending on the equipment itself and how it is spread out, you may be able to submit several different play equipment sets as different POI. Consider your photos carefully, if you can show that the equipment is in a secondary location, with the original POI that is potentially already a PokéStop in the background, it could help get it approved. There is a small park near my house and I have managed to get 3 different POI submitted for it, one sign, and two different playground equipment sets, and it is a very small park!
In a similar vein to parks, take a look at any fields potentially used for sports, many villages have small sports teams. Is there a basketball court? Tennis court? Permanent goal posts? Any other kind of permanent sport structure? A cricket pavilion? A small building or storage unit marked up with the sports club name? If you have an area with multiple of these, take a look at the S2 cells work in that area, and try to optimise the space to gain more than one POI. For example, if you have a football field marked with permanent goal posts, and it has 2 pitches with those goal posts, check which goal posts from each pitch will let you have two POI, rather than just guessing, in order to hopefully gain two POI, rather than one. We’ll talk more about S2 cells shortly!
Are there any historical buildings that aren’t private residences that maybe have a plaque commemorating the year they were built, or that have some other sort of significance to your local community? Are there any listed buildings? In the UK buildings with historical or architectural significance are known as listed buildings, and there are different grades that apply to them. There may be a similar scheme in your country, and those buildings can be submitted.
Submit Good Submissions
It might sound obvious, but try to make sure your submissions are as good as possible in order to be reviewed positively. Take your photos in bright daylight, ensure they are clear, and don’t contain any people, animals, cars or other personal information. Don’t zoom in as it can affect photo quality, don’t take them inside your vehicle, and make sure you submit portrait orientation images, that aren’t wonky or cropped in anyway. Photos shouldn’t be photos of photos, or things from google images etc, they should be real photos you have taken.
Include as much information as you can to back up your submission. I had a submission rejected a few times for being seasonal, so included information from a newspaper article that confirmed it was a permanent feature, and was finally successful.
Keep your titles accurate and clear, and your descriptions neat and to the point. Make sure they are specific, rather than generic, for example, if you are submitting post boxes, include a street name to identify it easily from other post boxes. Additional information to back up your submission should be included in the supporting information section, along with a clear photo that shows the surrounding area is safe, and helps accurately place the location.
Good supporting information is considered by Niantic the best way to sway ‘grey area’ submissions. To quote the Wayfarer website, ‘Supporting text should include a thoughtful explanation of why a nomination justifies as a Wayspot in support of Niantic’s mission and/or why it is important to the community. Think of it as what you’d tell a friend if you took them to visit that Wayspot.’
Other things to be aware of are access to emergency services, military bases, pedestrian access, private residences, schools, unsafe locations, adult locations, and sensitive locations like graveyards and cemeteries. In terms of graveyards, historical graves like those of notable musicians, or actors may be accepted, but private gravestones will not. Cemetery entrances may also be accepted, just be sensitive with your submissions.
One final note for your submissions, don’t mention Pokémon GO anywhere. Not in the description, or even the supporting information. There are sadly some nefarious voters out there who will reject submissions for any mention of GO, so avoid mentioning it to avoid unnecessary downvotes.
As well as submitting POI, you can also join Niantic’s Wayfarer website to actually help vote on submissions, which will help you earn upgrades, that will get your submission reviewed quicker. Helping review each others submissions helps everyone in the long run, be fair and honest, and you’ll maintain a good rating as a reviewer.
There is a fantastic Wayfarer Discord that has several of the Wayfarer Ambassadors as members, and it has a dedicated channel for advice and help with submissions! It can be a really helpful tool to learn more about how to improve your submissions, and maybe find out some POI you can submit you may not have realised before.
Get to know your S2 Cells
We have an extensive article covering S2 cells that can really help you understand what they are and how they are important to GO, but I’ll cover them briefly here. I’m going to quote the specific part of the article that is particularly relevant to rural players.
Here is how S2 cells influence Pokémon GO:
- Only one PokéStop or one Gym in a Level 17 cell. There can be multiple Ingress portal in an L17 cell, but only one Point of Interest in Pokémon GO.
- Gyms are decided in Level 14 cells. Each level 14 cell contains 64 Level 17 cells, so up to 64 POI in Pokémon GO. The number of POIs determines the number of Gyms in Pokémon GO:
Knowing where your cell boundaries fall can really help you push the limits of how many POI you can create in your area. You can use this map to view the different cells in your area, and see where there are empty S17 cells you can submit in. It is specifically designed to show existing POI in Pokémon GO, and under ‘settings’, then ‘visual’, you can choose the size of the cells you wish to see. I’m part of a rural players group in my local area which covers a group of villages all spread out over quite a distance, and we’ve all used this particular map to help us plot out our own individual areas to optimise the areas to great success. Consider carefully where the POI could be, be accurate and truthful about locations, but just think carefully about how maybe submitting on one side of a building vs directly in the centre for example, could help your area.
Having a look at your local area via this map might help you find new areas to hunt for potential POI in, or even allow you to work with your local community to create something that could be a new POI.
I hope this helps you come up with some more potential ideas for how you can optimise your rural area. It can feel hopeless to improve your area when there are strict limits on what can be a POI, and I hope Niantic will consider changing some of the requirements for specifically rural areas and isolated communities in the future. It is a shame that there is such a vast gulf between the city experience, and the rural experience, simply because of geography.