British Transport Police - Pickpockets QR Code


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Wander around the London Underground and you're likely to see safety posters from the British Transport Police (BTP). This is the first one that I've seen with a QR code on it.
BTP QR Poster

It's a fairly good poster. A good call to action, a URL in case your phone can't read QR codes, and the code itself is well sized and has a high level of error correction.

Scanning the code, however, leads to a rather disappointing user experience.

A non-mobile mobile site

Here's what the user sees when they land on the BTP's "mobile" site.

BTP Mobile Site Screenshot The site is incredibly poorly formatted. It is evidently not designed for mobile, nor has it been tested on a wide range of phones.

No viewport has been set, meaning most phones will show the site zoomed out.

The images are all fixed at 480px wide, so any phones with a smaller screen may have difficultly rendering the page.

The Videos

The videos themselves are well produced, but almost totally unsuitable for mobile. The videos are around 30 seconds long - yet weigh in at around 3.6MB!

Even on 3G, that's a a long wait for the file to download. On 2G? Forget it.

The files aren't streamed - they have to be downloaded. Finally, the resolution is fixed at 640*360, and so the videos are not adapted to each device's screen resolution.

Click To Call

If you are the police, you probably want people to be able to phone you. So the BTP place their phone numbers on their site.
BTP non click-to-call
There's only one problem - you can't click on the number to call them! So, you're left in the annoying situation where you either have to remember the phone number, or borrow another phone to call them.

Making telephone numbers "click-to-call" is really easy. Literally, all you need to do is write

<a href="tel:0800405040">Call us on 0800 40 50 40</a>

Hey presto! Users can click on your phone number and place a call from their mobile phone.

The Stats

As I discussed in an earlier post, using a URL shortner means that anyone can see your QR statistics!

So let's take a look at how the BTP have done.
BTP QR Stats

At the moment, they're averaging 12 scans a day for this poster (I don't know if other posters have the same code - I suspect so). Naturally, iPhone is at the top of the scans, with BlackBerry following close behind.

Is this a good result? I don't know. If there was just a URL on there, how many visits would it get?

Making It Better

This is such a brilliant idea for a QR poster campaign. With only a little work, it can be made really useful for Londoners.

  • Create a responsive mobile site.
  • Use click-to-call for all phone numbers.
  • Optimise the videos for mobile download and viewing.
  • Consider streaming the videos - perhaps using a service like YouTube.

If you would like a bespoke QR consultation, contact me.

3 thoughts on “British Transport Police - Pickpockets QR Code

  1. What about the obvious contradiction of telling people to keep their valuables safely stored while encouraging them to wave their smartphone around to scan a QR code?

    1. To be honest, I don't think it's a big deal. Everyone on the tube is either fiddling with a smartphone, watching movies on a tablet, or reading an ebook. Hanging around a poster seems like the least efficient way for a criminal to see where you stash your valuables.

  2. I'd have thought the last thing you'd want to do in an area where pickpockets and street thieves operate is pursuade folks to get their expensive smartphone out of it's "safe" pocket and into full view. That's asking for trouble.

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