The class attached mobile barcodes to campus trees to spread information to smartphone users.
The students of a forestry class at the University of Minnesota attached signs featuring QR codes to 34 species of trees at the school’s St. Paul campus with the goal of better connecting with the public through interactive information about each type of tree.
The effort was to combine the use of popular technology with the ability to gain more knowledge about nature through the simple scanning of a two dimensional barcode. The labeling of the campus trees was an element of a larger research project . These signs were designed to allow smartphone users to scan them using a free app, and then learn more information about the species of tree upon which it was posted.
Graduating senior, Eric North, the class teaching assistant, said the project will give the public a way to learn about the campus trees.
The species that were selected were chosen by the arboriculture students, themselves. According to the professor of the class, Gary Johnson, they included the Austrian Pine, the Sugar Maple, and the White Oak, which make up about a third of the total tree species on campus. He went on to say that this particular element of the project is a first at the University, but that he’s hoping to broaden it to include the campus in Minneapolis as well as surrounding parks in the cities.
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North also pointed out that the City of St. Paul has already expressed interest in the elements of this project that can work for community outreach.
He said that Johnson had already been asked to assist in posting the signs with their QR codes for Arbor Day on trees throughout Horton Park. However, in order to achieve further expansion of the project, Johnson has stated that he will need to achieve greater funding. Currently, they are using signage simply made up of laminated paper tied onto the tree using a string.
Johnson pointed out that “It’s relatively inexpensive but also relatively ethereal.” He feels that to expand the project for more permanent signs with QR codes, it will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. He’s hoping that this project will draw people to the campus and generate attention for the work.