Is it Time for Disaster Recovery Plans to Include QR Codes?

You’ve probably already seen QR codes many times. A QR code typically looks like a bit of computer-generated art in a square, printed in magazines, on cereal packets, on buses, and so on. What’s the link with disaster recovery plans? Simple enough. The use of smartphones is increasing, and so are the opportunities for enabling disaster recovery operations via smartphones. Smartphones also read QR codes, thanks to their integrated camera and QR reader software (standard on many models). The logical step is then to make the QR code add value to the DR process. But how?

Triggering an action in a smartphone is the reason for existence for many QR codes. While they also serve in industrial environments for tracking products (which is where QR codes come from), their usage has seen explosive growth in interacting with mobile devices. A QR code, essentially a next-generation barcode, can contain information or instructions that a smartphone can read. This might be a link to go to a particular webpage (emergency webpage), a concise amount of content (where to locate the latest disaster recovery plan), or an instruction to send an SMS (“I’m alive!”).

The other distinguishing feature of the QR code is that it is read optically. The smartphone camera needs to be able to make out the detail in the code, but QR codes can literally be as big physically as you like. A QR code covering a whole wall is quite feasible – it still has the same information content, but can be read from farther away. Just to give an idea, the biggest QR code on earth is visible from outer space. What a disaster recovery plan then needs to determine is the one key action (see possible examples above) that such a code should trigger in the smartphone of a person reading it.