QR Codes, 'quick' cities and the future of place



By Adam Beck | Program Lead, Future of Place


And here we stand again, unpacking more post-COVID urbanism topics. This time, the humble QR code.


Without going too far back into the history of the Quick Response (QR) Code (Invented in Japan in 1994, standardised in 2015 (ISO/IEC 18004), now used daily around the world), one can see that the global COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a somewhat 'hockey stick' level of growth in this simple technology.


And this technology is one that connects people with information, connects people to place and connects place with lifestyle and experience. All through the camera on your smart device.


By why did it take a global pandemic to demonstrate to city shapers that this technology could be a powerful force for good in how we shape and experience great places?


Well, I wont get ahead of myself and make that assumption - just yet. So we should then discuss.


The uses and use cases that have popped up over the past 12-18 months surely serve as an opportunity for urban planners, designers, place makers and engagement practitioners and policy makers to consider the wider potential of QR codes beyond 'checking-in' to a place.


Lets consider the following city shaping opportunities of the QR code, given our near ubiquitous daily use. Here are just some we are seeing:

  • Providing rapid access to historical insights into a place, enabling a celebration of the rich cultures of our First Nations Peoples'

  • Location-based citizen engagement, enabling swift feedback on place experience

  • Activating mixed reality experiences on smart devices, providing citizens with additional options for interacting with the places they enjoy

  • Facilitating user-generated open data, by providing a platform to contribute to data sets on the use of place

  • Enabling transparency on the types and use of technology in the public realm

  • Supporting asset and place maintenance works, by offering quick linkages to relevant schedules, data bases and condition insights.

What uses do you think QR codes can have in the future of place?


Share you views here and we will compile them all in an upcoming post here on the F>P website.

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