Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On-the-Go Construction Info

New Codes on Building Permits Will Provide Smartphone Users With City Data

By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL

Ever pass a construction site and wonder what's happening? Technology unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday will give the public fast access to building information.

The city's Department of Buildings has started to print "Quick Response," or QR, codes—similar to a bar code—on all permits for buildings undergoing any type of construction in New York City.

"Anyone passing by who wants to know more about a project will be able to scan the QR code with a smartphone and learn about the property owner, the approved scope of work and any complaints or violations related to that project," Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan.

The building information is already available to the public on the city's website. "But the QR codes," the mayor said, "will provide instant access to a condensed mobile version of the Buildings Department webpage, which provides permit and violation history for every building in the city." The website currently receives more than one million views a day.

Robert LiMandri, the city's buildings commissioner, said most New Yorkers, when they spot a construction site that piques their curiosity, don't want to return to their home or office to get detailed information.

"They want to know now," Mr. LiMandri said, "because, you know, New Yorkers are demanding. Right, Mr. Mayor?"

Construction permits will have QR codes added to them as they are replaced at the 975,000 building and construction sites in the city, according to City Hall. All permits are expected to have QR codes by 2013. Users of smartphones can download a free QR reader by going to the app store on their device.

"We know that New Yorkers are always on the go," Bloomberg said. "And we want to give you every possible opportunity to communicate with your government wherever you are and at anytime of the day."

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