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QR Code Guidance

Quick Response or QR codes are square-shaped matrix bar codes that users can scan with a smart phone or mobile device with a QR reader.  A QR code typically contains a web link that directs users to electronic information, such as mobile-enabled websites, videos, and e-brochures. 

Currently, the BLM uses QR codes for external communication in limited instances, such as the BLM Idaho Geocaching Initiative and BLM California recreation areas.  Through widespread use of QR codes and traditional communication tools combined, BLM offices and programs can reach and serve a diverse public.  This guidance offers a safe means of implementing the QR codes and a process for tracking appropriate use.
 
I.Governance
II.Appropriate Use of QR Codes
III.Process for Creating, Updating, and Tracking QR Codes
IV.Technical Requirements

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I. Governance

As the official messaging arm of the BLM, the National Communications Directorate - through its New Media Team - provides national oversight for use of QR codes for external communication needs.

The BLM's New Media Team and State/Center External Affairs (EA) Offices manage the approval, creation, and tracking of QR codes.  Offices and programs should coordinate the use of QR codes with local BLM communications staff.

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II. Appropriate Use of QR Codes

The BLM will use QR codes as an additional tool for directing the public to official BLM information on www.blm.gov and the BLM’s approved new media sites.  The QR code should appear in a visible location on external communication vehicles that include but are not limited to: printed materials such as brochures, fact sheets, and maps; promotional displays and giveaways; and signs.  

Whenever possible, the QR code should direct users to interactive and/or mobile-friendly content, such as videos, electronic brochures, or maps. At a minimum, the QR code should direct users to a web page that matches the context and user’s expectations, rather than a generic web page. 

Where QR codes appear, a non-technical solution should be provided so that users without smart phones, a QR reader, or web-enabled device can access similar or equivalent information.  For example, recreation site visitors who can view an electronic map through a QR code or direct web link should have access to printed maps as well.

Note:  QR Codes are not required on external communications materials but are available for use as business needs arise and funding for new materials allows.

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III. Process for Creating, Updating, and Tracking QR Codes

The New Media Team and State/Center EA Offices will create all QR codes through an internal QR code generator.  The QR code generator will shorten the original Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for public use and create a QR code associated with the shortened or “Tiny” URL .

The QR code will direct users to the web address associated with the Tiny URL.  The New Media Team and State/Center EA Offices can change the web address associated with the Tiny URL and QR code through the internal QR code generator as well.

No external QR code generators may be used.  Aside from the security and tracking benefits, the internal QR code generator allows users to change the web address associated with the Tiny URL and QR code so that content remains current without changing the actual QR code/related publication.   

For internal tracking, the WO 600 and State/Center EA Offices will document all use of the internal QR code generator using the QR Code Tracking Sheet.  The tracking sheet will capture the following information about each Tiny URL:

  • The Tiny URL;
  • The original web address associated with the Tiny URL / QR code;
  • The date that the Tiny URL / QR code were created;
  • The reason that the Tiny URL / QR code were created (purpose);
  • The office requesting the Tiny URL / QR code; and
  • Any changes to the web address associated with the Tiny URL / QR code.

At the end of each quarter, State/Center EA Offices will submit the QR Code Tracking Sheet to the WO 600 through the BLM’s New Media Lead, Kaveh Sadeghzadeh, at kcsadegh@blm.gov.  The QR Code Tracking Sheet should be cumulative for each fiscal year.          

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IV. Technical Requirements

Based on best practices throughout private industry and public organizations, the New Media Team and State/Center EA Offices will implement QR codes according to the following technical requirements.  The technical requirements apply to the use of QR codes on all external communications and promotional items.

[1] A white space or border should appear around the QR code.

[2] The QR code should appear at least 1.25” by 1.25” in size.

[3] The shortened URL or Tiny URL should appear below the QR code.

[4] The QR code should appear without additional branding or customization.  

[5] As appropriate, short instructions for using the QR code should appear next to the QR code itself. 

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