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NOAA: Will Boaters Use #QR Codes On Print-on-Demand Nautical Charts?

Coast Survey is testing QR codes on POD
nautical charts. For instance, the QR code
on chart 11416 would lead to important
information on your  smartphone.

NOAA's Print-on-Demand paper charts may provide a unique service in the coming months. Don't worry, you will still get all the accurate and precise chart information you rely on - but you may also get a little more real-time interactivity. Coast Survey is evaluating whether to add quick response codes to POD nautical charts, so boaters can use their smartphones to get real-time information.

Quick response codes (QR codes) are 2-dimensional bar codes, like the image on the left. When you scan a QR code with an iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled smartphone, you can link to digital content on the Internet. (You may need to download a free QR code reader application to your smartphone first).

The nautical chart QR codes that we are testing would bring the smartphone user to a site that provides information specific to the location depicted on the chart. For instance, if you used the code on Chart 11416 Tampa Bay, you would get a link to the tides, air/water temperature, barometric pressure, wind, and other information specific to Tampa Bay. This webpage ( )  gives you some QR codes that you can try out. (If you prefer, you can go directly to a sample interactive page ( ) for Chart 11416.)

What do you think? Will mariners - especially recreational boaters who do not have an electronic charting system or a computer on board - find QR codes useful? Coast Survey wants your opinion. Particularly, we are assessing:

  • Usability of the mobile interface, particularly at sea
  • The mix of information that should be provided
  • Benefits to mariners of the information
  • Utility of the icons on the chart at the information stations
  • Appropriate improvements
  • Mobile connectivity in recreational boating areas
  • The costs to build and maintain a mobile information service
  • Whether NOAA should offer this as a service

You can contribute your comments on the evaluation topics listed above. Send an email to or leave a voicemail at 888-990-6622.

We are evaluating the QR codes as a free service that would be added to NOAA's Print-on-Demand charts, available commercially from and .

January 10, 2013

QR code for this article.

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