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Indian cities using QR codes for services | Latest News In…

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It’s 9am on a Friday morning —the middle of the weekday rush hour —and Ajit Jain, an IT professional, is making his way towards the Noida Sector 52 Metro station. Jain only uses the Metro occasionally, and doesn’t have a smart card, so usually a Metro ride means waiting in a queue for 10-15 minutes to buy a token.

A Delhi Metro passenger shows his QR code-based ticket on his mobile. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A Delhi Metro passenger shows his QR code-based ticket on his mobile. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

On Friday, however, Jain has already bought a ticket online. He scans the quick response (QR) code of the ticket — which he has on his mobile — at the automatic fare collection (AFC) gate at the Metro station and enters the premises.

“Now, whenever I feel like commuting on the Metro, all I need to do is buy the ticket online and walk straight to the AFC gate. I do not need to stand in queues any longer,” said Jain.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on, June 30, introduced a dedicated mobile app for its QR code-based ticketing system, a month after the corporation had introduced QR code-based paper tickets.

“The idea was to ensure that passengers don’t need to queue up at the counter or use cash for transactions,” said Anuj Dayal, principal executive director, corporate communications, DMRC. “Today, over 21% of passengers are QR code ticket users. On average, about 20,000 QR tickets are booked through the DMRC Travel app every day.”

Traditional vs modern

QR codes are essentially two-dimensional barcodes that can store information, and cities across India have begun using them for a host of purposes — better governance, delivery of citizen services, and seeking feedback for services, among others.

In Bengaluru, for example, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is currently in the process of pasting QR codes on road signs across the city’s south zone.

Scanning these codes, officials said, will give a person all the information about the road — its length, the official responsible for its maintenance, when it was last repaired, details of waste generated, and the names and contact numbers of officials in charge of streetlights.

“We are currently working on integrating other information into the QR codes, such as details of all the properties on the roads. All this information is dynamic and they will keep getting updated. We have already pasted over 10,000 QR codes. Over the next few months, we plan to implement QR Codes on all the 90,000 streets across Bengaluru city,” said Tushar Giri Nath, chief commissioner, BBMP.

“While most of this data was already with us in digitised form, we have now made it available to the public through QR Codes.”

Similarly, Jammu has embarked on a massive project, under which more than 250,000 residential and commercial properties in the city will be given a QR code-based digital address — a number plate with a unique digital door number (DDN).

The digital address will have details such as the geo-tagged location of the property, ward number, street number, and house number, and also details of its water and electricity connections.

Scanning this QR code through the My Jammu App will allow people to avail of various services provided by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) like sanitation, repair or construction of streets and drains, request for street lights, lifting of garbage, corrections in certificates, and lodge complaints.

The old traditional address, says JMC officials, will only be for postal purposes.

“We are creating a smart address for all properties, which will allow us to understand the penetration of our services and make the services delivery system more efficient. Geo-tagging will enable navigation to the property. We have already implemented this digital address project in Roop Nagar and will be implementing it across the entire city soon,” said Rahul Yadav, commissioner, JMC, which is implementing the exercise with Jammu Smart City Limited.

“ We have already surveyed over 200,000 properties, and the data collected will be used for better decision-making.

Innovation with QR codes

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in 2021 conducted a survey of trees in its area of jurisdiction and put up QR codes on about 4,000 trees across 135 roads and in Lodhi Garden, with details such as their girth, height, crown area, location, deformity, blooming season, biological name, carbon dioxide intake and oxygen-releasing capacity.

Last year, expanding the project, it decided to undertake geotagging and QR coding of about 180,000 in the Capital,” said an NDMC official associated with the project.

Police forces too are getting in on the act. Delhi Police, for example, launched Anubhuti, a QR code-based feedback system, in 2022 to establish what it calls a “two-way communication between the public and the police”.

“Since there is a widespread digital literacy among people of all strata of society, we wanted to create a system where we people could give us instant and anonymous feedback,” said Suman Nalwa, public relations officer, Delhi Police.

Another innovative way in which these QR codes are used can be seen in Bengaluru — last September, the BBMP tied up with traffic police and Manipal Hospitals and installed QR codes at all major traffic signals to provide quick help to those facing a medical emergency in the middle of a traffic jam.

“The QR codes at traffic signals allowed one to connect to the emergency number at a single click, instantly directing them to ambulance services,” said Karthik Rajagopal, COO, Manipal Hospitals.

Experts weigh in

Experts say the use of QR codes comes with both conveniences and concerns. “I believe QR codes are an example of how digital language can be developed for a verbal community. It is like the individuation of information,” said Osama Manzar, founder-director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, a non-profit which works to help people to gain access to better healthcare, education, skills and livelihood opportunities through digital literacy and tools. “But there should be more awareness about malicious QR codes that may be used for phishing attacks or deliver dangerous and malicious content,” he cautioned.

Apar Gupta, co-founder, and executive director of Internet Freedom Foundation, which works in the area of digital rights, said the widespread use of QR codes in accessing citizen services may lead to the exclusion of some sections of society. “There is a digital divide even in metro cities, and thus, such digital initiatives by cities need to be mindful of those who don’t have smartphones and are not so digitally savvy. I believe that government agencies must keep open other non-digital means of public interactions and feedback,” he said


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