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Home arrow Experts arrow Guest Contributors arrow Using QR Codes to Deliver Maps Electronically     

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Using QR Codes to Deliver Maps Electronically PDF Print E-mail
Experts - Guest Contributors
Written by Ted Florence, Avenza Systems   
22 May 2012


With smart phones being the dominant form of communication in regards to how people receive and consume information, a growing number of map publishers -including individual cartographers and trail blazers who have maps to share for enthusiasts of their choice- are tapping into technology in the form of Quick Response Codes (QR codes) to help promote, sell and deliver maps electronically.

QR Code usage is gaining popularity but how exactly does it work for maps? A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be easily scanned using any modern mobile device. When scanned, the mobile device automatically launches a web browser to direct the user to a specific website or some other action.  In the case of those interested in digital maps, consumers are directed to the map product page such as the one in the Avenza Map Store where maps can be purchased or downloaded for free. 

Take the QR code to the right as an example.  When scanned on a device that has Avenza PDF Maps installed, this code will automatically launch the Avenza Map Store listing for Avenza's Amsterdam map. From there, one can browse details about the map and immediately purchase it. In this case, the QR code contains a special URL to which only the Avenza PDF Maps app will respond.

What can you do with QR Codes and maps?

There are several ways QR codes can be used to the advantage of map publishers who are thinking of going digital:

  • QR codes can be strategically placed on printed maps, signage, websites, advertising and anywhere else maps are promoted.
  • They can be placed on a paper map product to offer a digital copy of the printed map to someone who buys the paper product.
  • QR codes can be used in magazine and newspaper articles to offer a map for sale for a destination mentioned in the article. If a map is used in an article a QR code can be used to offer that map.
  • QR codes can be placed on websites to enable the purchase of a map that is shown and offered for sale on that website.
  • They can be used on maps and map signage or on a hiking trail head map sign, to offer the same map that someone may be looking at on the sign.
  • QR codes can be used on signs on hotel concierge desks, travel agencies, airports and train stations and any other place where travels congregate.

So what if someone is looking at a printed map and wants to obtain it via a QR code but doesn't have the right app on their smart phone?  As an example, in the case where Avenza is used to retrieve digital maps, a QR code is available on the paper map. When it is scanned on a supported device, it immediately launches the Avenza PDF Maps app listing in the Apple app store and prompts the user to download the app. Consumers are then fully equipped to use QR codes to retrieve maps available on the app.

A sample below shows Avenza's PDF Maps app store listing QR code:


Anyone equipped with the Avenza PDF Maps app who may be looking at a particular map can scan the code and immediately get the same map delivered to their device. To the right, is an example of such a sign used recently at an event in San Diego, CA. 

Getting mobile consumers to take notice of digital maps is becoming easier for map publishers. For more information on creating digital maps or QR codes for mobile devices as well as ways consumers are using digital maps, log onto www.avenza.com.

Ted Florence is the president of Avenza Systems Inc., a private Canadian company that develops, markets and supports computer software products and royalty-free map data for the mapping geographic information (GIS) industries.Florence is a former board member and treasurer for the International Map Trade Association and has a continuing and genuine passion for cartography and everything maps. Providing his expertise and knowledge base to cartography colleagues, he can be seen year round speaking at conferences such as the North American Cartographic Information Society conference (NACIS), the International Map Trade Association conferences (IMTA) and the US Army Corp of Engineers Geospatial PDF Working Group.

Video - PDF Maps and The PDF Maps Store

Last Updated ( 22 May 2012 )
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