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QR Code in China Helps Lost Elderly

China is one of the first countries to use tracking mechanisms through mobile phones and/or social media apps such as to track people’s movements or to stop people diagnosed with COVID-19 from travelling. It has now developed into a national Health QR Code System that helped control the spread of COVID-19 in China.

A QR Code system has been developed to serve many functions including helping lost seniors return home. By scanning a quick response (QR) code on the plastic gadget, any helper with a smartphone can reach the emergency contact of the carrier immediately.

The idea came from a situation in China in which 44 member police stations dealt with more than 200 cases of lost elderly a year, one case every workday on average. The police officers spent hours trying to get clues of who to call from the vague descriptions of the lost elderly. In some cases, the lost senior citizens had to stay overnight at the police station before their families were eventually found.

Among 65,000-plus people in Li’s jurisdiction, nearly one out of three was over 60 years old. Some of them get lost because they suffer from dementia, age-related memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, or cerebellar atrophy, and so on. Taking a walk was never easy for them. They cannot tell their identity, address or telephone number, and most of them get lost frequently.

– Li Caoliang, Head, Lei Feng Police Station, Fushun (Liaoning Province)

The lost elderly could face extreme consequences, such as hunger, dehydration, frostbite, even death if they fail to access timely aid. The researchers came up with the plastic plate after a two-month experiment and got the patent of their invention. For the sake of privacy protection, the QR code records contact information with the permission of its owners in advance.

The cases of lost elderly have dropped to around 30 a year since the QR plate was introduced, according to the Lei Feng Police Station. Good Samaritans just help them find their families without asking for polices’ help. More than 50,000 such technologies have been distributed for free, with about half of them for people from other parts of the country, such as Shandong Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

I was very interested in this invention because many people are elderly in my jurisdiction. “For those who know how to use them, they just help the lost elderly get in touch with their family. Or we can scan the QR code and do the rest.

– Zhang Peng, Head, Hongmiaozi Police Station, Urumqi, (Xinjiang)

China has 264 million people aged 60 years and above, accounting for 18.7% of its 1.4 billion population in total, according to the seventh population census conducted in 2020. The aged population was expected to surpass 300 million in five years.

The innovative QR code ID helped guarantee the travel safety of elderly people in potential disadvantages. To build an elderly-friendly society, China should provide suitable living, travel and leisure services for the grey-haired population, including the disabled and demented.

China has been utilising technology to improve the quality of people’s lives, including in popularising digital skills, as reported by OpenGov Asia. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) recently released a plan to increase digital skill education and training to the public to help more people reap the promise of digital development.

Digital capacity refers to solving problems by using digital technologies and relevant tools. He said that an all-people digital skill education and training activity can help promote industrial digitalisation and digital industrialisation. It will make consumers more capable of using more kinds of products and able to experience better digital services.


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