QR Codes for Disaster Management

If you’ve ever been outside recently, chances are you have seen those weird-looking, square barcodes on billboards, print ads, and even coffee cups. Even if you haven’t been outside but have been online, chances are you’ve seen them at least once on your timeline.

These are QR Codes, and they’ve seen a rise in popularity in the last few years. They are now widely used for marketing purposes in a lot of industries. Did you know that you can also use QR Code in disaster management? Here’s how.

What Are QR Codes and How Do They Work?

QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by the camera of a smartphone or tablet. They were invented in 1994 by Japanese company Denso Wave in asset management. Recently, they have been widely used due to the popularity of smartphones.

Compared to traditional barcodes, QR Codes can store a lot more information in a variety of formats. They can contain simple text-based information, URL, phone numbers, instant messaging accounts, and even files. Because of this versatility, QR Codes can be used for a variety of advertising and marketing purposes, registration, ticketing, and even product packaging.

To generate a QR Code, you would need a QR Code generator on a computer. Depending whether you are using a free generator that creates static codes or a paid one that generates dynamic codes, all you need to do is encode the necessary information. After saving and downloading the QR Code, you can now use it for your promotional materials.

To use this QR Code, you just have to point the camera of your smartphone on it. If your native smartphone camera is not capable of reading QR Codes, you would need to use a mobile application. No worries, we’ve created a list of the best QR Code scanners for you to try

QR Codes for Disaster Management

How can QR Codes be used for disaster management? They can aid in emergency response, search and rescue operations, and communication with affected communities.

According to The Red Guide to Recovery, you can use them to direct affected people to video tutorials on YouTube, maps to evacuation centers, and other important information.

Organizations and agencies who prepare handbooks and brochures can add these QR Codes on resources to be scanned by users for detailed information that can help them during disasters.

QR Codes for Disaster Preparedness

Brochures and Printed Resources

Here are some ideas for QR Codes you can add on brochures and printed resources:

Emergency Kits

Add a QR Code on the emergency kit. Here are some QR Codes you can make:

  • Inclusions of emergency kits
  • Video tutorials on how to use materials in the kit
  • Emergency hotlines
  • Mobile applications

Around the Evacuation Facility

Post printed QR Codes around the evacuation facility so that they are easily accessible. Here are examples of QR Codes you can create:

  • Evacuation center floor plan
  • Wi-Fi

Challenges and Limitations of ìUsing QR Codes for Disaster Management

Limited Internet Connectivity

One of the biggest challenges of using QR Codes for disaster management is Internet connectivity during and after a disaster. Power outages are common in disasters, possibly disrupting Internet connection. In addition, it would also be challenging to recharge phone batteries.

Lack of Knowledge

Another huge challenge in using QR Codes during disasters is the lack of knowledge by the affected communities. For example, disaster prone countries are usually third world, where a large chunk of the population still has limited access to smartphones and the Internet. So, it is always best to consider the context of each community when implementing this technology.

Lack of Device

In connection with the above, lack of device is also a challenge when implementing QR Codes. Some people in the affected communities may not have devices that can read QR Codes. Power outages also make charging phones hard, thereby hampering utilization of QR Codes.

Potential Damage

Finally, disasters can also make printed QR Codes impossible to scan. Floods, mudslides, and fires are just some of the disasters that can damage printed and posted QR Codes, making them completely unusable.

Because of these limitations, it is best for first responders and relief organizations to offer alternative methods instead of completely relying on QR Codes. Always consider the context of the community you are serving.


Overall, QR codes can help disaster management efforts by providing quick and efficient access to information and resources. While QR codes are just one tool in the disaster management toolkit, they can play an important role in helping relief workers and affected populations respond effectively and efficiently during a crisis.