Building permits posted on New York City construction sites are sporting an intelligent look these days as older permits give way to new ones bearing QR codes—those stamp-like squares of dots and dashes. Scanning the QR code with an app on a smartphone yields a building-permit-specific URL that can either be opened on the spot, saved or shared by e-mail for follow-through. And in New York City, where digital buildings-department data are becoming more and more organized and available, the little quick-response, or QR, code instantly unlocks a wealth of very specific project information.
"The idea here is quick and easy, and [it has a] pointed purpose," says Robert LiMandri, New York City Dept. of Buildings commissioner. LiMandri came up with the idea after watching a woman search for product information by scanning QR codes on boxes in a store. "I mentioned it to our developers, and they said, 'Oh yeah, we can do this.' It was not a very hard, technical lift to do, so we did it," he says.