DARPA’s Resource-Gathering Social Media Game To Help Us After the Apocalypse

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March 2 2012 2:46 PM

DARPA’s Resource-Gathering Social Media Game To Help Us After the Apocalypse

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(This photo taken 11 March 2005 shows a 'QR Code' being displayed in a camera-equipped mobile phone in Tokyo.)

Photo by TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images

What do you get when you combine QR codes, social media, and visions of the apocalypse? DARPA’s new scavenger hunt with cash prizes, of course! 

The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency wants us to hunt down hospitals, reservoirs, and other resources that could prove important in a scorched landscape. You know, for practice!

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The game, called CLIQR Quest, wants contestants to compete for $40,000 by finding and logging QR codes throughout the continental United States to “represent the dispersion of resource concentrations throughout the country.” The apparent goal is to learn how people can use technology to help emergency workers assess damage and remaining resources after a large disaster.

The catch is that even Carmen Sandiego couldn’t collect them all with a private jet, so contestants need to use their own powers of social media, app development, and most importantly—collaboration—to win. So sharpen your post-apocalyptic bartering skills … unless you want to just keep playing Farmville.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.