No Smoking QR codes to help keep Taiwanese city smoke-free

Hsinchu City in northern Taiwan is using No Smoking QR codes to help citizens report violations of anti-smoking legislation

QR codes have been used in a number of ways: to authenticate jewelry, to speed up car crash rescues, to execute IQ tests, to report crimes and to promote reading among children. Hsinchu City in northern Taiwan has now introduced No Smoking QR codes that will be used to report smokers in ‘No Smoking’ areas. This is a measure to protect the health of the city’s residents by reducing their exposure to second-hand smoke.

About 5000 of the city’s outdoor areas have been marked off as ‘No Smoking’ zones; a poster featuring a QR code has been put up in each of these areas. Now, residents who want to report an offender, only have to scan the QR code with their mobile devices and they will be directed to a mobile site where they can register their complaint. Every scan leads to the same mobile site, although the No Smoking QR codes each have different query strings which will enable to Health Bureau to identify where each of the violations took place.  Once a violation has been reported by a No Smoking QR code, the Health Bureau will send inspectors to the area where it was reported from. The inspectors will offer guidance to the violators; repeat offenders, however, will be charged a hefty fine.

As an additional incentive for people reporting the violations, the Health Bureau is also offering a daily entry into a prize draw to win an iPad. For those who wish it, however, the reporting can be done anonymously.

While many people have derided QR codes, there is no denying that if employed correctly, they can be useful in a number of situations. Maintaining law and order and enabling citizens to help with smooth governance is just one of them.