QR codes as a service in public bus transport
Sounds great, and the opportunities are really big, but let's see how QR codes are implemented in public bus transport in the Eindhoven area in the Netherlands as service to clients.
One of the many bus transport companies in the Netherlands that is using (a) QR code(s) is 'Connexxion' so lets have a look at how they use QR codes today. Only a PDF on line brochure with a QR code on the cover was found, this is the starting point. First observation...QR code has no 'quite zone' and was an incredible challenge for the i-nigma reader that was used to scan.
Original QR Image
Fixed QR Image
Which QR code does your scanner prefer?
What is behind the QR code?
Scanning it with the Nokia N95 the results are not what was anticipated or expected.
Looking at the results it seems mobile and handheld devices are both treated as normal browsers making it difficult or impossible to navigate with a mobile device.. QR codes are for mobile devices, not desktop computers!
QR Codes for value added public transport services
As example some images (yes good weather, spring in fact) of bus stops in Eindhoven where two privatized bus companies operate 'Hermes' and 'Arriva' and both appear not to be using QR code technology at present. The reason you can tell it is Eindhoven is because this is the technology capital of the Netherlands, and the bus stops here have LCD panels telling people how long it is going to take for the next bus to arrive at the stop. Pretty smart.
Bus stop in Eindhoven
Bus stop information panel
The LCD panels at the bus stops inform people about when the next bus should arrive at that stop. They are not always functioning (broken or vandalized) and are difficult to read in the dark. You must physically go to the bus stop to read the panel which in times of poor weather when most delays occur is not really an ideal situation. Imagine if you could have that information panel on your smart-phone or mobile device, then you would not need to go the bus stop at all to know when the next bus is due.
QR code solution
Because it is clear that the bus company knows exactly where each bus is at any time (GPS), they are able to report this information to the panels at the bus stops. If they used this same technology and made a QR code for each bus stop, then people using the bus stop can scan and store the code. A mobile website then identifies the unique QR code and can report when the next bus will be at that stop.
Normal bus stop
Bus stop QR code service
This allows public bus transport users who know exactly how long it will take them to get to the bus stop to stay in the comfort of their home or business until appropriate to go to the stop. Instead of going out in foul weather to be confronted by a display that then informs them they will have to wait at least another XX minutes.
All the technology needed to provide this service is available today. This QR code solution is more cost effective than LCD panels in investment and maintenance, is more vandal proof and provides more service of real value to clients. Considering the amount of smart-phones in use today it seems a very viable solution for public bus transport companies.
A live simulation to track your bus route(s) from anywhere.
I urge public transport companies who have not yet looked into the use of QR codes as a value added customer service to do so. The technology is readily available and the cost of implementation and maintenance is fractional compared to alternatives.