QR Codes on Building Permits in NYC

QR is finally getting the love it deserves across the US, and is getting used for more than just advertising gimmicks.  New York City mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that all future work permits in the city will have QR codes that when scanned will resolve to the mobile version of the city’s information about the project.  While this information has been available before, it had to be accessed online through nyc.gov, making it inconvenient for finding out about work on a building that you are standing next to.  The city also chose QR over SMS (texting), which it uses in some other applications around town, even though QR is not as widely adopted of a technology, because they acknowledged that it is the better solution.

This is part of a larger movement towards transparency by the city, especially in the sectors of construction and public safety.

The Department of Buildings has been working to make the construction process more transparent, improve safety and improve quality of life. Since 2002, detailed permit and property information about the city’s 975,000 buildings has been made available on www.nyc.gov, and those who file complaints through 311 can go online to monitor the status of inspections in response to those complaints. In 2009, the Department launched the Development Challenge Process, which enables the public to view online diagrams of proposed buildings before work begins. Residents also can submit zoning challenges, and after those challenges are reviewed, Department responses are posted on the website. New York was the first city in the country to post such diagrams online before construction begins.

This solution in many ways is so simple and logical it should almost be a non-news item, but it is the fact that government, from city to federal, is normally so slow to change, adapt, and adopt, that their embrace of QR at the same time as it is becoming known to the public at large is impressive.  As for emerging technology to embrace, QR really is one of your safest bets, it has been around since 1994, is tried and true, phones and mobile devices can read them, and will continue to be able to for the foreseeable future.  In fact, NYC’s chief digital officer Rachel Sterne is currently asking people (especially citizens of NYC) through her Twitter and Tumblr what other applications of QR they would like to see the city use.  I can think of one that it would be great for the city to start to use…

Via Fast Company

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