The UKHO has included quick response codes on their standard paper charts.
The UK Hydrographic Office has now added smartphone friendly QR codes to the standard features of its standard nautical charts, making it possible for the users of their paper versions to be able to use their tablets or smartphones to be able to access additional status information.
Through the use of the quick response codes, the user will gain access to more up to date data.
Scanning the QR codes redirects the users to the page that is relevant to the map on the UKHO’s searchable Notices to Mariners database, which is called NM Websearch. Instead of having to enter the URL and conduct the search manually over the device, it requires only a rapid barcode scan to obtain the same search results. The website can then provide the user with chart status information through the mobile devices.
This means that the QR codes provide rapid and easily accessible up to date safety information.
This can also make it possible for improvements from the perspective of compliance as it gives Port State Control inspectors the ability to scan a chart once they have boarded a vessel, so that they can check to see how up to date it actually is.
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As these barcodes are becoming increasingly common in product packaging and advertising, they are also becoming more recognized by consumers. This means that more people have the scanner apps on their mobile devices – applications that are typically available for free – and will be more likely to use this added feature, and therefore the information it provides.
This feature also makes it more likely that a vessel’s operator will actually use the added information, as QR codes greatly reduce the time and effort needed in order to obtain it. This convenience eliminates any struggle related to using a touchscreen keyboard, as would be necessary to enter the information manually. The intention is to continue to add the barcodes to all of the remaining standard UKHO nautical charts and to move forward in introducing similar opportunities in its Mariners’ Routing Guides, through the use of this same kind of technology.