"Don't drive and Pokemon."
As police slap that slogan across roads in some states, tech-savvy students in Canberra have found their own way to urge people not to "catch 'em all" while behind the wheel.
Three year 10 students from Canberra Grammar School worked tirelessly over 46 hours to create an app called "Parkachu," which encourages Pokemon Go hunters to play safely by combining data from the popular smartphone app with transport data from the ACT government.
George Dan, Sam Reading-Thompson and Robin Hodda entered the app into the open data competition, GovHack, which ran from July 29-31 across multiple locations in Australia and New Zealand.
At the events, teams were challenged to use data to tell a story or create apps, visualisations and websites.
Pokemon Go – the app "Parkachu" is based around – requires users to create an avatar that changes location as the user moves around the real world. The objective is to capture "wild" Pokemon that appear at random as the user moves about.
Inspired by the media attention surrounding the dangers of people driving while playing the game, the students created an app that allows Pokemon Go users to see any Pokemon located near carparks and bus stops, even showing how many car spots are available.
Just days ago, a 19-year-old man crashed his car into a school while playing Pokemon Go in Melbourne.
George said their creation encourages players to plan their routes safely by showing any Pokemon near carparks and bus stops, urging them to plan their routes rather than playing while driving.
He said the most challenging part was getting the data from Niantic, the developers of Pokemon Go.
"We learned a lot of it at school, but we also self-taught ourself a lot of the programming," he said.
"We saw what other people did online and tried to replicate that in a sense, but getting the data was hard."
Though the overall winners are yet to be announced, George and Sam already received the Youth Spirit of GovHack Award, for helping other teams produce their hacks despite being under the pump to complete their own project in time.
Sam said he was passionate about sharing his knowledge with his peers.
"Some people came with us and asked for our help and instead of being selfish we would go and help others," Sam said.
ACT government's chief digital officer Jon Cumming said GovHack was about governments sharing their wealth of data with the community and created endless opportunities.
"Governments have traditionally had limited thinking that we had to do everything ourselves, but now we are liberating that data and giving as much raw materials for innovation as we can," he said.
"Governments aren't going to do projects that involve Pokemon Go for example. Those things that happen in these environments are stepping stones to something much bigger and greater."
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