NOAA nautical charts for Tampa Bay, Florida, to feature QR codes
OceanGrafix, a provider of print-on-demand nautical charts for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has announced that QR codes will be a part of new nautical charts for the area around Tampa Bay, Florida. QR codes are quite common in the world of marketing, where they have proven useful in connecting consumers with companies. OceanGrafix believes that the codes can be used for much more than marketing, however, and has begun providing the codes to NOAA as a means of making nautical charts more intuitive for tech-savvy consumers.
Tests of coded nautical charts to begin this month
NOAA has begun experimenting with QR codes to determine their effectiveness in providing information. The agency is aware that adoption of the barcodes amongst consumers has been slow, which is often due to the lack of interest surrounding the codes or the opinion that they are little more than a gimmick. NOAA claims that QR codes have more value as a practical tool than as a marketing device. The agency expects that its use of QR codes in nautical maps will provide a good example on how the codes should be used beyond the realm of marketing.
Real-time information accessed through QR codes
The codes can be scanned with smart phones and mobile devices equipped with barcode scanning applications. When scanned, the codes will direct users to a mobile website where they can find real-time information concerning a particular nautical region. Each Tampa Bay area nautical map produced by OceanGrafix will have its own QR code linked to a unique mobile website. The websites will be able to provide updated information concerning the ocean around boaters that are using the service.
NOAA will be testing the QR codes for a four-month period.
During this time, the agency will determine whether the codes are proving useful for ocean-goers in the Tampa Bay area. The two major factors that will contribute to NOAA’s evaluation of QR codes are their ability to provide real-time data and their utility. The agency expects that QR codes will be popular amongst boaters because of their ability to provide valuable information. If the codes prove successful, OceanGrafix will likely begin including them on future nautical charts.