Government Adoption of QR Codes

Posted by: Nicholas M. Roberts

For those people who still argue that QR codes have their days numbered, I believe you have finally been proven wrong. It’s one matter when you’re favorite band is using them, it’s another when a Fortune 500 adopts them, but it’s a different matter altogether when they’re being used by the United States Government.

One government agency that has been using QR codes for a little while now is the U.S. Department of Energy. They have asked for auto dealers to put QR codes on their labels for new cars so customers can scan them and learn more information. For someone who has purchased a car before they added this policy, I can say that it would have been much easier with the code. Sure the label will tell you miles per gallon and a bit of other information, but how much can they really fit on an oversized sales tag? Visit for nice short video on the new labels.

The New York City government is also taking advantage of QR codes. In February 2011 Mayor Bloomberg announced that the Department of Buildings will be including a QR code on all permits. This will allow even passersby to get information on a construction project in progress. Not only will it satiate a pedestrian’s curiosity for what is to be expected, but it also gives them to comfort of knowing that the construction is safe and lawful. View the official press release on

You might remember my coverage of [QR Codes for Causes] and the support doesn’t stop there. The Department of Health & Human Services manages a number of campaigns in the interest of people’s wellness., which provides information on HIV and AIDS is using QR codes for several purposes. On their latest brochures, business cards, post cards and posters they are including QR codes. They will direct readers to a mobile-friendly webpage or an HIV/AIDS clinic locator. Some of these QR codes take advantage of the error correction technology and have been personalized to feature the red AIDS ribbon logo.

The Department of Health & Human Services also manages Million Hearts, a campaign for preventing heart attacks and strokes. Million Hearts aims to reach their goals by utilizing social media outlets, encouraging users to print badges and wear them around, and also by using QR codes. The QR codes used for the project are surrounded by stock heart shapes filled with unreadable QR data-style patterns. The codes themselves are not special, but the surrounding heart is sure to catch some eyes. I am not certain if Million Hearts is printing physical codes. It seems as though the campaign exists primarily on the web. They are encouraging webmasters to include them on their pages. You can see the codes here and perhaps even add one to your own page if you wish.

My belief that QR codes have long life-span has been further bolstered by the information I have shared in this post. I am excited to see the government incorporate the codes in other ways. Imagine if we used them to vote in elections! Okay, that might be pushing the limit, but I feel we’re still getting our foot in the QR doorway. If you work for the U.S. Government and you’re trying to decide if QR codes are right for your office, consult this blog from Sarah Marchetti Van Velsor.