New York is going to start putting QR codes on city permits
Trying to get more info on a restaurant's letter grade, the safety of a building or a day care center's permits? There will soon be a tag for all of that.
The City Council unanimously passed a bill Monday that requires every city agency that has inspection, permit, license or registration information online to post a QR code linking to it.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the bill was created to complement open data laws requiring all city agencies to have that information online by 2016.
"What we want is to make sure is that New Yorkers have the ability to access all the information that is embedded in these QR codes," she said.
Anyone with a smartphone would be able to scan the permit's tag and instantly be taken to the agency's website, which would display the data.
A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said he supports the bill, which would go into effect in fall 2013.
So far, the Department of Buildings posts the tags on their permits. The Department of Health will eventually post codes that provide information about restaurants, tattoo parlors and day care centers.
The tag would not only give the user an eatery's health grade, but also a detailed explanation on what infractions led to that grade, in addition to its recent inspection history.
Other agencies will start posting QR codes on their permits and other documents once they start putting their info online.
"This data can help make New Yorkers better consumers," said Councilman Dan Garodnick, the bill's sponsor.
Andrew Moesel, a spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association, which has criticized the health department's letter grading system, said the QR codes would not add any benefits to businesses because the information listed online is sometimes outdated or inaccurate.
"We're all in favor of transparency, but the Department of Health has to make better efforts to make sure their website is up to date," he said.
Dick Dadey, the executive director of the government watchdog group Citizens Union, said the bill would improve communications between New Yorkers and the government.
"This innovative approach will introduce New Yorkers to access online resources they may not have been aware of and move the city forward in adapting to new mobile technologies," he said in a statement.
Starting next fall, the data from some city agencies can be accessed with QR codes posted on the permits. Here is what you would find if you scanned those tags:
Construction sites: Scanning a building permit QR code would give the details of the permit as well as any complaints and violations issued against the project.
Restaurants: In addition to the letter grade, the webpage would give the number of times the eatery has been inspected, all the details about past violations.
Day Care Centers: The Department of Health currently lists all the day care centers it certifies on its website. There, parents can find information on violations as well as inspections.