MWRD Among First Public Utilities in Country to Incorporate QR Coding Technology to Improve Customer Service

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is among the first public utilities in the country to incorporate Quick Response “QR” barcoding, a no-cost technology, into their interactive communications strategy.

The square-shaped, black and white images are similar to bar codes and designed to provide information to the public. While the MWRD has been using social media, including Facebook and Twitter, QR codes are the newest device in MWRD’s public affairs’ tool chest.

The path to more widespread use of this technology began several decades ago, when bar codes were developed to help automotive manufacturers track parts. Codes then began appearing on groceries and other products benefitting both retailers and customers because of the improvement in efficiency.

Fast forward 20 years, and QR coding is no longer limited to retailers or automotive companies. They can appear on virtually any object, such as walls, on billboards and signs, in newsletters and magazines, on clothing, on websites and on business cards. Mobile applications allow users with smart phones to scan the image to open a web page, which is easier and quicker than having to spell out long web addresses.

MWRD is placing codes on brochures and signage to offer a direct link to information about wastewater treatment facilities, property and other land holdings.  Executive Director David St. Pierre recognized the advantage in adapting code to benefit the District and recognizes the benefit to Cook County residents.

“QR coding opens up a world of possibilities that allows us to crosslink the physical world with the internet,” said St. Pierre. “I believe that QR coding will become a standard marketing tool in both government and in the private sector since this technology offers an innovative way to help the public quickly link to an actual website for information not otherwise readily available.”