Larger a city, bigger the disconnect between administration and citizens.

In small towns and rural areas, citizens are more involved with the administrative authorities. They work with the authorities in making their daily lives easier. But this is not the case in a city like New York or Tokyo.

It can be tough for citizens (and even tourists) to get the the information they need at the right place. What can the administration do? How can they build a system that allows citizens to raise their voice?

A simple yet effective method that city administrations are adopting is QR Code technology. A QR Code is a square-shaped barcode that stores information. Anyone can decode it using a smartphone equipped with a QR Code scanning app.

City administrations can use QR Codes in a number of ways to engage citizens and tourists. Here are 3 ways how:

1. Complaint System at Public Offices and Sites

The city administration can deploy a network of QR Codes at every government office. These include utilities offices, police stations, transport terminals, and healthcare facilities.

If services are below par, citizens can register a complaint by scanning the QR Code. The system will document these complaints and make the respective offices accountable. This easy system will encourage participation of citizens in the city’s functioning.

city admin qr code

Beijing, China

In mid-2016, the city of Beijing installed QR Codes on lampposts across the city. In case any lamp post is not functional, residents can scan the QR Code and register a complaint. Since the implementation, the city council has received 1,800 valid complaints via QR Codes.

city admin qr code


Wales, UK

Machynlleth and Llanidloes in Wales use QR Codes to maintain infrastructure in their town. The countryside services team have set up QR Code plaques on footpaths across both towns.

Residents can scan these QR Codes to report damages caused to various structures. These include buildings, footbridges, roads, or any structure susceptible to wear and tear. When scanned, the QR Codes lead to the city council’s online form. Here, the residents can report the damage.

So far, the city council has fitted 1,267 QR Code plaques across both towns.

city admin qr code


In Nov 2016, the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, announced a public contest. This competition was to rate city services in 7 cities in Cambodia.

The Ministry will distribute QR Code stickers to the public when they visit the city. When scanned, the QR Code will lead to a page where they will need to rate the city services.

city admin qr code

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh’s administration is set to introduce QR Codes to improve their waste collection services. Citizens can scan these QR Codes to file a report in case the collection van has missed their home. Citizens can also report any overflowing bins in their neighborhood.

The program is set to launch in February 2017.

2. Providing Information at Tourist Sites

City admin should add QR Codes at tourist sites to provide engaging information. The content could be text, photos, or videos. For the benefit of tourists, this information should be available in many languages.

Read how city administrations are making their cities more tourist-friendly.

city qr code

In Kyoto, Japan, the Police have added QR Codes outside their substations (called Koban). When scanned, the QR Codes provide directions to local tourist spots. By the end of 2016, 300 Police stations across Japan will add similar QR Codes.

city admin qr code


a.Making Local Transportation Safer & Easier

Commuter safety in local city transportation is a big responsibility, particularly in developing countries. The Police need to ensure to ensure that Taxi drivers follow safety rules and do not fleece.

Andhra Pradesh, India

To manage commuter safety, Police in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India is using QR Codes. The Police have added a QR Code in each Autorickshaw. When scanned, the QR Code reveals detailed information of the driver and the vehicle.

city admin qr code

The Andhra Pradesh Police is also using QR Codes to help identify abandoned vehicles.

A web app—PINS—helps police identify vehicles and return them to their owners. Read more: QR Codes to help Andhra Police identify abandoned vehicles.

B. Payment and TICKETING

QR Codes a hassle free way of making payments and buying tickets.  Not only do they conserve paper, they also save the commuters from spending time in queues at the ticket counter.

Pretoria, South Africa

In Pretoria, South Africa, cab commuters can make cashless payments via QR Codes.

city admin qr code

Commuters can buy points at selected taxi stations and retail stores. The system adds these points to a Fairpay card that has a QR Code or a chip. The commuter has to scan this QR Code via a scanner installed in the taxi. The system deducts the amount for the ride from the card.

Also Read: QR Code Payments: Everything you need to know.

Mumbai, India

The local bus and train services in Mumbai(India) have adopted the paperless ticketing system.

Commuters can book tickets on their smartphones via an app. The QR Code generated on the app will serve as a ticket.


Ahmedabad, India

After Mumbai,  Ahmedabad (India), is set to adopt the QR Code ticketing system for their local buses.  To board the bus, commuters will have to scan their QR Code on the bus’ QR Code scanner.

Ahmedabad BRTS QR Code ticket

Shanghai, China

Metro commuters in the Shanghai can collect their ticket by scanning a QR Code.  The commuter will first have to buy the ticket on Alipay or Fufeitong app. Once paid, they will receive a QR on their mobile.  At the metro station, the commuter can scan the QR Code to get their ticket.

city qr code

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Gautam Garg is a Co-founder and the CEO of Scanova. He is a QR Code enthusiast and a big fan of inbound marketing, CRO, and usability. When taking a break, he likes to go trekking and eat spicy food.