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QR codes: Forgotten tech that could be useful for construction

Daniel Kemp

Manchester Metrolink 3D 1

Manchester Metrolink 3D 1

Earlier this week we took a look Manchester’s recently-completed £1.5bn Metrolink extension, with a particular focus on the £350m Trafford Park line.

This 5.5 km section of line has seen Transport for Greater Manchester and contractor MPT (a joint venture consisting of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales) build six new stations, with the line passing through a busy industrial hub on its way.

As part of the public consultation, MPT and TfGM have produced a series of 3D models for each section of the line.

Future commuters can scan a QR code on their smartphone to be transported into the model, getting a feel for what the finished stations will look like.

QR codes are an intriguing thing to deploy.

The technology has never really taken off fully in the UK, although you will see the barcode-like squares in various places once you start looking for them.

Chinese example

In China, though, they are almost ubiquitous, used for everything from paying for goods to replying to job ads, and even as large-scale advertising.

The Chinese example shows how useful the technology can be when deployed cleverly, and it isn’t hard to imagine a point where we see more of this in use in the UK.

Manchester Metrolink 3D 2

Manchester Metrolink 3D 2

It would be great, for example, to see more QR codes on the sides of construction site hoardings, allowing interested passers-by to scan them with their phones and get an instant look into what the finished scheme will look like, or even just to find out more information about them.

So the fact usage is definitely a long way behind that seen in China shows that there is immense potential for it to grow.

The use of QR codes by TfGM and MPT shows that these could have an interesting role to play in construction – and are straightforward to communicate information about projects to an increasingly tech-savvy public.

This week in tech:

  • Today is the extended entry deadline for the CN Specialists Awards – and there is a category for Technology Supplier of the Year. Entry is free, so don’t miss your chance to be part of the UK’s only national awards for specialist construction companies.
  • Bloomberg’s new London HQ, which opens later this month in the City, has achieved a 98.5 per cent BREEAM Outstanding rating, which architect Foster + Partners says in the highest design-stage score ever achieved by a major office development. Technology has played a big part in this, with innovative power, lighting, water and ventilation systems among the equipment deployed.

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