(FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - April 19, 2012) -- Fort Meade is launching a new program and expanding another one to give customers an easier way to comment on garrison services.

While Interactive Customer Evaluation comments are not new here, the way customers can submit them is going mobile using Quick Response barcodes and additional ICE kiosks, said Milton McLean, a management analyst in the Fort Meade Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, which manages the installation's ICE program.

PAIO is providing QR barcodes to every service provider in the Fort Meade ICE database such as the Demps Visitor Control Center, ID Card Section and Child Development Centers to "allow customers to rate their service immediately from their [smart]phones," said McLean.

In addition to providing feedback, service providers use the comments to study trends and analyze business practices to improve service.

QR codes, which were designed for the auto industry, store information inside of their unique patterns. Users decode the patterns using a free QR code reader, which can be downloaded from a smartphone's app store.

The app scans the code, decodes the pattern and launches the service provider's comment card in the smartphone's web browser. The entire process takes just a few seconds and offers customers the same online comment card that is accessible from a traditional computer, said McLean.

The QR code initiative follows Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington's Feb. 27 visit to Fort Meade. The commander of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/U.S. Army Military District of Washington discussed with Garrison Commander Col. Edward Rothstein how customers at other installations have benefited from the codes.

"Our garrison is committed to providing world-class customer service to everyone who serves, works and lives here -- all of Team Meade," Rothstein said. "Transparency and communication are very important to me. I want to hear about the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to know what we're doing right and where there's an opportunity for improvement."

Rothstein encourages the community to use his open-door session on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. at garrison headquarters in Hodges Hall, 4551 Llewellyn Ave., town halls, social media and now the QR codes.

McLean expects the QR codes will increase the weekly average of 100 ICE submissions because they are "convenient and quick. You have the ability ... to just scan that barcode with your [smartphone] and keep going."

The QR codes are not limited to ICE comments. The Public Affairs Office also plans to use the codes to offer easier access to additional content in its print and community relations products.

The new way to submit ICE comments is not replacing existing kiosks, which "are a direct line to ICE," McLean said.

In fact, PAIO recently installed kiosks in the Exchange, Army Community Service, Picerne Leasing Center and Freedom Center Barracks. In January, the garrison had five kiosks; it now has nine.

The kiosks are a part of the garrison's mobile initiatives, which include PAO's enhanced-mobile website using a web-based app and wireless text alerts for urgent messages.

"All kiosks are wireless. That gives [PAIO] the ability to move kiosks from one location to another location," said McLean, who used an example of a multiday event as one opportunity to "capture ... feedback" from the high traffic.

For McLean, an Army veteran who served for 20 years, the ICE system is part of the Army's commitment to its all-volunteer force, workforce and customers.

"We have military personnel here on the installation who have been to war or are en route to war," he said. "We owe them the best service."