How Government Entities Should Use QR Codes to Keep People Safe During COVID-19

Why are so many government entities using QR Codes to safely inform the public during the coronavirus outbreak? QR Codes have the unique ability to share information with no physical contact, have no minimum scan distance, and are super easy to use. This makes them the perfect partner for governments both during the coronavirus and long into the future.

What role have government entities played in keeping the public informed during a crisis?

A government entity refers to an organization that is set up or aids the government based on constitutional, federal, or state laws. Common examples include the legal system, tax organizations (like the IRS), welfare and social systems, and also health-related entities like the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

During the coronavirus pandemic, government entities have played a crucial role in providing transparent and accurate information to the public. Some of the major sources of coronavirus information come from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). So, bearing mind the importance of sharing information safely, particularly due to social distancing rules, there are many ways governments can keep the public informed in addition to websites. A unique and highly useful tool that government entities can use to make safe information sharing even easier is QR Codes.

How QR Codes encourage social distancing with contactless information sharing

QR Codes have been widely used across the world to help make contactless information transfers and payments more accessible, and even help with health management in China and other countries. A lot of this has to do with the way QR Codes were developed. They were invented to improve upon Barcode technology in that they can be read both horizontally and vertically (2D) instead of just horizontally like Barcodes (1D). This is why they were created with a square shape, and what gives them features like high error tolerance, large data capacity, and flexible uses.

No minimum scan distance

Unlike NFC technology (what you might often see for contactless card payments), QR Codes have no minimum scan distance. This is what makes them a much safer choice to help with social distancing. As long as the QR Code is large enough and has high image resolution, users can stand from far away distances and use their smartphones to scan the QR Code without having to touch anything else. This is a much safer method to share information rather than handing out physical papers.

A QR Code on a print banner makes it easy for citizens to access information channels from their local government

Wide variety of applications

QR Codes have uses beyond just redirecting users to websites. They can also be used to share PDF files, images, sound files, events, and more. So, whether a government organization uses them during coronavirus or after, they always make it easy to transfer information and access digital channels via mobile in a convenient manner. An example can be found below for how a government can promote the concept of sustainable energy for their city using a Video QR Code on a brochure.

A QR Codes connects citizens to a video about a government initiative for sustainable energy

Speedy and accessible for users

Another reason why QR Codes have been a popular technology used during coronavirus is that they’re so easy to use. Anyone with a smartphone can scan them, which is basically half the world, and even much higher rates in further developed countries. Many newer smartphone models don’t even need a third-party app to scan QR Codes, because the camera does it directly (See how to scan QR Codes with Android or iOS). So all it takes is a few quick seconds to scan and then a user can view whatever content is connected to the QR Code. A great example of a government taking advantage of this fact is Ghana, which has implemented a country-wide cashless payment system with QR Codes to lessen the reliance on cash payments that could potentially spread the virus.

Connects print to digital

Even though QR Codes were originally intended for product inventory management, the fact that they connect any print material to digital information is what makes them useful for governments, businesses (digital business cards in particular), and even marketing campaigns. It’s much easier for a reader to scan a QR Code and be redirected to a particular website or digital platform instead of having to type a link separately themselves and struggle to find the correct information. Make the process simple and reduce the confusion with QR Codes. In the example below, a government organization uses a Social Media QR Code on a display sign to enable easy reader access to those links so they can stay updated on related government mandates.

A QR Code conveniently connects users with information about government updates
A QR Code conveniently connects users with information about government updates

Safe and secure

Did you know that QR Codes are becoming a popular way to make mobile payments and even cryptocurrency transactions? Furthermore, our QR Codes come with an automatically generated short URL that can only be changed by the account user, which also makes QR Codes useful for digital channels, such as social media. In any case, any worries about related security issues can be thrown out the door, which is precisely why so many governments have already been using them. Even the German government has recommended government officials to use QR Codes on their business cards because they also make networking much more convenient.

A QR Code on a business card guideline for German government officials
A QR Code on a business card guideline for German government officials. Source: styleguide.bundesregierung.de

Other examples of how government entities can use QR Codes

There are many other ways that government entities can use QR Codes to safely and securely share information, both on print and digital mediums. Here are a few more examples to clarify how this works. 

Press releases

QR Codes are particularly handy for press releases because you can convert a press release into a QR Code, it then makes it convenient to share (such as for journalism or PR department) or add to a print graphic design. For example, the German Chamber of Commerce shared a press release regarding lessening coronavirus restrictions in Berlin. Anyone who reads the press release can also download it in the form of a QR Code and share it with anyone interested.

Office windows

A QR Code connects citizens to government office hours
A QR Code connects citizens to government office hours

Office windows and public buildings are often the places where government entities can share important information with the public. Particularly during the coronavirus, but also relevant during any emergency, government offices likely have changes in their opening times and how appointments are handled. They can add a Dynamic URL QR Code to their office window to enable access to a digital platform that is updated more regularly so that citizens stay up to date.

Donations

QR Codes have often been used to collect donations for nonprofit organizations. A government may want to help promote a particular nonprofit organization and give citizens the chance to donate by placing QR Codes on posters in public spaces as well. Similar initiatives have also been used by nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army and also for the German city of Bonn’s public Christmas lights.

A QR Code on a poster enables easy mobile donations for charitable causes
A QR Code on a poster enables easy mobile donations for charitable causes

Social media

QR Codes can also be useful for social media, because you make sure users on mobile and desktop can access the information, and can then also use it on the go. In the below example, the city of Wrexham, Wales posted a QR Code on Twitter to make it easier for citizens to go to the government website to vote.

Sharing paperwork

A QR Code makes it easier to find the most accurate information about what documents are required for appointments
A QR Code makes it easier to find the most accurate information about what documents are required for appointments

Government entities handle a lot of paperwork on a daily basis. Instead of giving out so much paperwork to citizens, why not share it with QR Codes instead? The below image shows how government entities could share information on certain government processes such as required documents for appointments. Instead of having to do tons of research online or contact the responsible organization with complex questions, the public can access the information directly via a PDF QR Code. This also helps lessen the burden on any informational service processes by answering frequently asked questions in advance.

Collecting feedback

A QR Code sent via email can be used to collect feedback for government processes
A QR Code sent via email can be used to collect feedback for government processes

Gathering feedback is likely a process that many governments used to implement. Rather than using paper forms to collect feedback that are tedious to fill out by hand, put the feedback form in a Feedback QR Code instead. They could also use public building space to put the QR Code on a print poster or send them via email.

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