Scanning The Wales Coast Path
In what is believed to be a first for a UK long distance path, QR codes have been created for 37 locations along the Conwy section of the Wales Coast Path. Dubbed "HiPoints" (from History Points) the two dimensional barcodes allow walkers with smartphones to obtain instant information on local history and geography. Maps show walkers their current location, and users can follow a self-guided tour by clicking a button which takes them to the page for the next Coast Path HiPoint. In some locations, downloaded photographs identify distant features such as hills and towns, and there is audio guidance on the pronunciation of Welsh place names. Content is provided in six languages, including Welsh and English. For more detail click here.
History Points began in Conwy town as a platform that would allow local societies, educational institutions, professional associations and public sector bodies and volunteers to come together and share archive material and expertise. At the same time the concept encourages wider community involvement - older residents are a rich source of recollections, historical photographs and oral traditions. The HiPoint project has been rolled out along the Wales Coast Path with the co-operation of Conwy County Borough Council, who are allowing QR code placements on their properties.
How QR codes work
A QR code is a two dimensional barcode that links the user to a web site using an Internet connection. In the absence of a wi-fi connection the codes can be scanned and saved onto a smartphone and viewed later, but it is sensible to provide a free public wi-fi connection if you are using QR codes on your premises. Because the link is to a web page, the information provided by a given QR code is refreshed each time the web page is updated.
More and more organisations concerned with historical or environmental interpretation are realising that QR codes are a viable alternative to traditional information panels, offer far greater information capacity and can incorporate visual and audio media. QR codes are simple (and free) to create, once Internet content is in place. But a couple of words of caution: make sure that the material that you are linking to is adapted to smartphone viewing; and make sure that the content will engage users, prompt them to save the link permanently and share the link with family and friends.
Try it for fun!
A Google search will bring up many providers of free QR codes. Follow the steps below to try out QR code generation for yourself. It should take less than a minute using Keram Erkan, one of many industry standard applications available. Here's one I made earlier.
- Choose a page on your web site as a test landing page.
- To generate a QR code, click here.
- Select Code Action 'Browse to a Web Site'.
- Enter your test page URL (as displayed in the Address Bar in your browser)
- Click on 'Generate Code'.
- Save the resulting QR code to your computer.
You will now have an image that can be converted to any format and scaled to any size for use in an application of your choice. Simples. Now you can start thinking about content and how to use QR codes in earnest. The only limitation is imagination and creativity.
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