Turning Mail Trucks Into a Data-Producing Nationwide Sensor Network Could Save the USPS

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Turning Postal Trucks into Mobile Sensor Arrays

It may deliver in snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, but the U.S. Postal Service can’t seem to deliver a net-positive operating budget. Even after drastically cutting personnel last year, the USPS still went $8.5 billion into the red, a budget gap that could lead to insolvency this year. But in an op-ed in Saturday’s NYT, Chief Counsel to the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission Michael Ravnitzky proposed an interesting idea to help the Postal Service get back in the black: turn mail trucks into a data-producing nationwide sensor network.

 

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Finland Postal Service To Open Mail And Send Scanned e-Mail Copies

 

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Finland’s postal service is to begin opening household mail and sending scanned copies of letters by email to cut down on costs and pollution. Not even the most intimate love letters, payslips, overdue bills and other personal messages will be spared under the controversial scheme.

The service, aimed at cutting the number of postmen and reducing CO2 emissions in the sparsely-populated country, is being offered on a voluntary basis initially. Volunteers will receive an email or a mobile phone text message as soon as their paper mail has been opened, scanned and sent as an electronic image to a secure digital mailbox, to which only the intended recipient has access.

The “highly automated” process of converting of letters into electronic documents will be conducted in “special, secured premises” where staff are bound by strict confidentiality obligations…

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