QR Codes

CCSO Broadens Its Communication Reach With QR Codes

The QR code is the latest addition to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s technological communication toolbox.

The QR code, or Quick Response code, is a two-dimensional bar code that contains text, URL, or other data. By scanning the QR code with a smart phone camera or bar code scanner, users are connected with a website or video that offers additional information on the topic.

“We are always looking for new ways to provide the community with safety information,” said Sheriff Kevin J. Rambosk. ‘We must reach out to the community in as many ways as possible, and with the ever-increasing popularity of smart phones we see QR codes as a tremendous communication opportunity.”

CCSO sees a broad range of potential uses for QR codes. For example, a QR code on a flier about a crime could link to a video obtained from a surveillance camera or the page on www.colliersheriff.org where citizens can submit a tip. QR codes on agency business cards could link to www.colliersheriff.org.

CCSO is already putting the codes to work. A QR code embedded into a press release about fireworks safety linked to an agency-produced video with more detailed information on the same topic. Fliers for the upcoming National Night Out against crime carry a QR code that links to a page on the agency website that contains details on all NNO activities throughout the county. A press release informing the community of a reaccreditation inspection by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) linked readers to the CALEA website so they can learn more about the stringent standards accredited agencies like CCSO must meet.

“We are finding that a QR code can give us the ability in some cases to provide additional context to our messages and in other cases to add another dimension of information,” said CCSO Public Affairs Manager Karie Partington. “We see it as a great communication tool.”

Michelle Batten is a CCSO Public Information Officer

Related stories:

QR Codes – 8 Ways Your Department Can Use Them

QR codes were created in the 90s to help Toyota keep track of the parts in it’s factories. Today QR codes are being used by businesses, government entities and individuals to create graphical scannable links to websites, phone numbers, maps.etc. These codes provide an engaging way for people to get to desired information easily just by launching an app and pointing their mobile phones camera at them. In addition, QR codes can be easily printed onto paper, stickers, signs, and placed digitally into webpages.  Because not everyone has a QR reader or knows what a QR code is, it’s important to provide alternate forms of getting the same information.

QR Code Tools
There are lots of QR code generators and readers out there.  For instance, QRstuff.com allows you to generate a code and customize it’s color. QRlicious.com can take your badge, patch or logo and insert it as part of the QR code. And Winq is a newer app allowing you to put several pieces of information relating to one QR code. But the person reading the code must also have Winq to read it.

Below are some ideas on how your department could utilize QR codes every day. This is not an exhaustive list and I’d sure love to hear some feedback on how departments are using or are thinking of using QR codes.

Note: When I mention “web pages” or “website” below, you could substitute Twitter, or Facebook, or blog pages, etc. instead.

1. Place a QR code on “attempt to locate” or “wanted” bulletins shared with the public. A QR code could direct citizens to a web page or PDF that contains more information about the person(s) being sought or direct them to information on where to report tips.

2. Put QR code(s) on informational bulletins. In cases of serial perpetrators you could include a QR code to direct citizens to web pages or phone numbers to call that would give more information or keep them updated on the  events.

3. A QR code could be supplied to the media to post with an article or video news packages to provide a  link where citizens could submit tips and leads to your department.

4. If your department gives tours of your buildings to groups, you could place QR codes on walls, doors, etc. so citizens could scan the QR codes to get more history or information about an area or unit.

5. If your department hosts a citizens academy, you could use QR codes as tips to clues during an investigation re-creation or other projects. You could also use QR codes on hand-out materials to point your attendees to your website.

6. QR codes could be posted on signs in the pd lobby linking to give more information about retrieving police reports, fingerprinting requirements and times, and information about vehicle impounds among other things.

7. While recruiting for officers you could place a QR code on recruiting materials directing recruits to the recruiting section of your website or even to a copy of your General Orders.

8. QR codes could be used on business cards to direct people to your website or unit page. In addition, you could place a QR codes in your email signature.

Again, this is just a brief list of the many different ways you could use QR codes. Please share more ideas in the comments section below and let us know how your department is using or hopes to use QR codes.

Related:
Enhance Marketing of Your Agency with a QR Codes, by Tom LeVeque

Enhance Marketing of Your Agency With a QR Code

Jumping into the smart phone arena last year, I bought an Android platform device and continue to be amazed at the technology and uses that this tool, and others like it, has to offer.  One of my first ventures was to download a variety of “apps” that I thought may be useful.  While visiting various websites for app reviews, I began to notice a strange, black and white, square box that appeared to be for scanning.  These boxes were usually in print advertisements or placed on the webpage for the particular app.  My investigative prowess was correct; these little boxes were indeed meant to be scanned, by me!  I quickly learned that these boxes were known as “QR” codes.

The QR Code, or Quick Response code, was originally developed in the mid-1990’s in Japan.  The code is a two-dimensional barcode and is meant to contain text, URL, or other data.  The QR code is able to be scanned by most barcode type scanners, including those readily found available for today’s smart phone.  The commercial industry has used this technology extensively, and it is now finding its way into other markets with the widespread use of mobile technology.  It is hard to find people that do not have access to a smart phone these days.  Private industry has recognized the need to reach customers through new means, like that of the QR code, and it is imperative that we in government do so, as well.

Application for government and public safety use is endless.  Some thoughts that quickly come to mind for use and placement of QR codes may include:

  • Adding a QR code to your business card to include a personal vCard allows you to immediately exchange contact information without exchanging the card (saves money and you’re going green at the same time).
  • Placement of a QR code on the agency webpage containing contact information or a link with directions to your facility.
  • Use of a QR code in crime bulletins to allow a viewer to link directly to the agency tip submittal page, like Crime Stoppers.
  • As a teaching aid, the QR code may be inserted into a lesson plan with a hidden message to attract the tech savvy student or youth.
  • Link directly to your Facebook or other social media with a QR code.

The list above is just the tip of what can be accomplished with some simple steps and a short time investment.  Perform a quick Internet search for QR code generator and your return will be filled with viable sources, the majority of which are free!  Many of the free sites ask nothing in return and allow you to generate your customized QR code by simply inputting the information that you wish included in the code.  You may create a code with agency contact information like is now posted on the side bar of the Arcadia Police Department News & Information Blog or create something with a hidden message like the one shown here: