John Hanke was a member of a panel on SXSW 2017, with several other key community members of in mobile gaming and online publishing.

The panel was named Augmented Reality and Urban Revitalization and featured Mona Lalwani (Engadget), John Hanke (Niantic Inc) and Sam Gill (Knight Foundation)

Hanke shared some interesting insight on the panel, mostly related to their efforts so far and the impact Pokémon GO had on the world around us.


John Hanke, CEO and founder of Niantic Labs and Sam Gill of the Knight Foundation will discuss the potential for Augmented Reality and other mobile technologies to engage communities in dialogue and activity around public spaces. Each have a unique approach towards connecting community members, such as Niantic’s mobile games Ingress and Pokemon GO and Knight Foundation projects such as the “Reimagining the Civic Commons” initiatives in cities like Detroit, Akron and Philadelphia and the wildly successful Open Streets events, which celebrate public spaces. John and Sam will look at ways that technology can pull people out of their homes and encourage them to “rediscover” public spaces, generating foot traffic, economic activity and cultural awareness in redeveloping neighborhoods.

Panel summary

The panel kicked off with with commentary on positive effects of Pokémon GO on health and getting people outside.

Hanke admitted they didn’t expect the viral explosion and that players are still engaged. He also highlighted that learning and improvement lead to better community engagement and communication.

CEO John Hanke – “People tell me Pokémon Go died down. I assure you, 10s of millions of people are still using Pokémon Go everyday”


He was firm to repeat “going outside” several times, repeating that getting players in the open is a key incentive for Niantic.

Niantic was founded on the principle of “adventures on foot”

He also implied that many public spaces underutilized capacity and that they’re looking into ways to improve that.

He shared that they doubled the team size working on Pokémon GO since Generation II released and that they’re launching a new version of Ingress soon.

Although mysterious on future updates he shares that they’ll be announcing some “new products” at the “next event”

PokeStops are being used to showcase local culture and history. This is usually done by local government, but companies like Niantic and the Knight Foundation are using technology to put that into the hands of consumers.

Hanke concludes the panel with a QA session and let’s other share their info (Gill and Lalwani):