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Postal Sensor Fleet Idea Gets Tentative Nod From the USPS

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the would-like-to-subscribe-to-your-newsletter dept.

Communications 77

Late last year, we mentioned the idea floated by to Michael J. Ravnitzky, a chief counsel at the Postal Regulatory Commission, that the US Postal Service use its wide-ranging fleet to gather and upload useful data of all kinds — everything from weather conditions to RF coverage. Now, an anonymous reader writes "A workshop on this topic is scheduled for April 12th in Washington, DC. This month, the Postmaster General sent a letter to Senator Thomas Carper, Chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, expressing interest in exploring this concept."

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77 comments

Wi-Fi! (-1, Offtopic)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543794)

Postal trucks as unsecured mobile wi-fi hot spots!

Re:Wi-Fi! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35543960)

They return with the data you requested the next day!

(note next day data delivery costs extra)

Re:Wi-Fi! (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544544)

I'm sure the posties are just thrilled that dogs can now track them remotely. No need to lie in wait, they can run around and play just keeping an eye on their tracker!

We really need to start relabeling. (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543796)

We have firemen here that very rarely do things that involve fire, & now we're apparently gonna have the USPS's fleet of Grumman LLV's that do work for the NIST & FCC. Maybe if we labeled these organizations properly we could be more efficient with the budget. (& this is coming from a liberal, not a conservative/libertarian)

Re:We really need to start relabeling. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35543864)

I suppose it's more about what type(s) of data they're looking to gather, I mean weather data on a very fine level like this could produce really enhance the models.

And if the FCC isn't disbanded by our current Congress the FCC, SEC, and EPA honestly need more teeth. Also more money into the FBI White Collar Division.

I believe the basic idea for this is to be a massive data gathering operation. It would be no more evasive than what Google did sniffing all the wifi when they started doing StreetView.

Re:We really need to start relabeling. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35547580)

More money into the FBI White Collar Division

And then they can fight the threat of private currencies [reason.com] . Or did you actually think an expanded financial crime unit would go after real criminals [bankofamerica.com] ?

Re:We really need to start relabeling. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543926)

So, you're proposing that we have firemen lighting fires to fight? In this case they're just talking about retrofitting these vehicles that travel all over the place with sensors, they're already having to do these routes whether or not they've got sensors.

The real questions are what sorts of sensors and how do we guard against potential privacy concerns for some types of sensors?

....and the news comes pouring in (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544664)

Entire city block moons the postman. Video footage @ 11

Re:We really need to start relabeling. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544034)

My immediate, cynical thought was that it's a political play to prove that they're not completely useless and those budget cuts had better be pointed elsewhere.

Careful what you wish for.... (4, Interesting)

moxley (895517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543840)

On the surface this sounds like a good idea, provided that data is collected from sensors only - for things like radiation and chemical/biological agents.....

However, I could easily see DHS wanting to expand this to more troubling activities....

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544448)

Yeah, weather, RF coverage, radiation, etc... Ssssssssuuurrrreeee..... Sounds fine to me....

But we already know they have mobile "body scanners" and who knows what else. These days the tinfoil hat crowd doesn't seem so crazy, more like just early adopters.

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545782)

This is just gonna make it harder to get rid of the USPS.

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35545928)

Yea, because we don't want daily delivery of mail to every street address in the United States for the same price. 44 cents is just too god-damned expensive to send an envelope from San Diego, California to Bangor, Maine.

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35546684)

...and why would someone want to do that?

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

Marillion (33728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35547228)

For starters, it would require a constitutional amendment. As one of the enumerated powers, a post office is one things Congress does that they're supposed to do.

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35547342)

It doesn't forbid competition as the law does now. It's illegal to compete in first class mail service. Allow competition and stop bailing them out and they'll crumble.

We can have a post office at the whitehouse, but that doesn't mean we have to fund it. I would definitely support getting rid of crappy snail mail services that lose billions each year. It's about time for an amendment to that.

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35549362)

Bailing them out? Stop robbing them of all their money every year & they'd be showing a PROFIT, not a loss.

GWB used USPS as his personal piggy bank to fund his venture into the sandbox, and ball-less Obama has done nothing to fix it, so the raping of USPS continues. USPS RECEIVES NO GOVERNMENT FUNDING

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35550312)

If the postal service runs at a loss, and the state funds it, removing state funding would mean raising prices or worsening service.

If a healthy and affordable delivery service is vital to your economy as a whole (and there's a school of thought that says that it is), then state funding there is no less morale than state funding for roads (also vital for a strong economy).

Re:Careful what you wish for.... (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35551462)

Well prices should go up then. Flying planes into remote areas to deliver mail at 40cents an envelope is nonsensical. UPS and DHL and FEDEX could easily compete if they were allowed to. The USPS is not vital at all.

Roads are infrastructure, and you can't just have other companies building out a competing set of roads, there are a limited amount of roads to be built. State planning is necessary.

Everyone benefits from roads, and everyone used to benefit from the postal service, but now most important paperwork is done electronically. Now the USPS is mostly a subsidized delivery service for old people that still write letters. It's also great for spammers to fill my mailbox up with junk.

sent a letter (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543846)

I wonder why he sent a letter ... and email would have been faster :)

Re:sent a letter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35543908)

the law demands that you not email a formal communication such as this but put it in writing i.e. a letter.

Re:sent a letter (2)

WidgetGuy (1233314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544454)

I wonder why he sent a letter ... and email would have been faster :)

Reminds me of a former boss who sent our company's reply to a US Post Office RFP via UPS. Needless to say, we didn't win that contract.

Add cameras (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543866)

Add cameras. Take that, Street View!

Re:Add cameras (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543888)

Take that, Street View! Your lies about "streets without mailboxes on them" will not be tolerated!

Re:Add cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544104)

I imagine it is a mixed bag there. Street View might have some places without mailboxes, but where I live there are large neighborhoods (city of 100,000 in the SF Bay Area of California) that are not covered by Street View. If you look on the map, they went by on some of the major roads, dipped into a couple of neighborhoods and then took off - apparently never to be seen again because the coverage has not changed for several years. For me, putting cameras on the postal trucks (and sharing the pictures with Google) could finally put us on Street View. Something Google apparently can't afford to do. Perhaps it has something to do with me blocking their advertisements?

Re:Add cameras (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544154)

Is it really that worthwhile though? I've got street view coverage of my neighborhood, but I rarely if ever look at it, same goes for places I'm going, I usually just stick to the aerial photos because they're far more useful for typical purposes.

Reasonable or not, I'd prefer to at least have some modicum of privacy rather than being caught on tape daily by the USPS vehicles.

This is kind of creepy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35543872)

Am I wrong here?

Re:This is kind of creepy (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543928)

They're already doing it.

Didn't you get the memo? I mailed it....

/* Cue ominous music ...

Bad for Google but okay for Government (5, Insightful)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35543912)

Google collects images for its streetview, and a Wifi sensor to create a "coverage" map, and it gets investigated by two governments (EU and US) plus an anti-trust investigation.

But if the government-owned post office does it, and "accidentally" collects your userID and other crap, that will be good. It will "help stop terrorism". Yep.

Sorry. I'm a cynic.

Re:Bad for Google but okay for Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544070)

The question is: Are you cynical enough?

Re:Bad for Google but okay for Government (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35547966)

Not by half :-)

Re:Bad for Google but okay for Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35550380)

and "accidentally" collects your userID and other crap,

Will find your 50 slashdot accounts? Scary.

No GPS data please. (0)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544006)

I hope some sane guy realizes that no location data (trajectories-stops) should be recorded for trucks making home deliveries. Delivery locations can be correlated with home locations and then in turn with sensitive information about who gets parcels and how many of them per month.

Personally, I would not welcome a three-lettered agency visit just because I make frequent eBay purchases of obscure 18th century books.

Re:No GPS data please. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544126)

You don't need GPS for that conspiracy theory. Your address is already on the parcel....

Re:No GPS data please. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544162)

I should remember to thank my letter carrier for always dropping the mail at random houses.

Re:No GPS data please. (2)

RabidRabbit23 (1576305) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544496)

There is a simple solution! We can set up a mail network to prevent the postal service from tracking our mail. As a node on the network, you receive sealed letters which contain stamps with them. The final destination is indicated on the inside of the envelope with the letter (away from the prying eyes of those evil mailmen) and you mail the letter to the next nearest node in the direction of the destination in a new envelope. This will always make the mail look like it is local as well as hiding the destination/sender pair. Eventually it will reach its destination after a few deliveries and you can safely continue your trade of obscure 18th century books. I think the bandwidth should be OK, but we'll need to work on the lag.

We Await Silent Trystero's Empire! (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35547976)

It's been done. Put your mail in those green boxes marked W.A.S.T.E...

(If this makes entirely no sense, you need to read Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49". It still won't make sense, but it'll be a lot funnier.)

Re:No GPS data please. (1)

nwmann (946016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35549722)

until someone does a man in the middle attack steals your package

It's a Makework Workshop! (0)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544112)

The CBO estimates we'll (the US) run deficits totaling 10 trillion between now and 2021. (http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12103) We shouldn't be creating makework for government employees. Just shut down the USPS - it's useless.

I am becoming convinced that there is no way the national debt can actually be repaid; monetization is the only possible outcome.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544172)

It's not useless, it's there to ensure that there is at least one delivery service which will deliver a given package anywhere in the US for the same price regardless of cost of providing the service. It's a little bit more complicated now, but basically still true. But fundamentally they could solve their budget problems by cutting service to the portion of the population that chooses to live in a place that requires them to use helicopters and such to deliver the mail.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544428)

So it's purpose is to deliver mail to rural places? If that's the reason why do we need a federal agency that delivers mail everywhere? Why not a mail delivery agency that solely serves people in areas to which private companies won't deliver?

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544446)

that "anywhere for same price" isn't true for packages, they use zones

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (4, Interesting)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544402)

You do realize that the USPS gets exactly $0.00 from your taxes right? Not even a penny. Whether or not the USPS exists has absolutely no effect on the national debt. In fact even their retirements are PRE-funded so it is impossible for them to have unfunded pension issues... This is a potential revenue source for the USPS. Weather services, scientists, and others could "rent" access to the sensor information for a small nominal fee.

This also has the potential to greatly expand the available data points for any number of things and could greatly increase our ability to understand or predict natural phenomenon.

Of course people like you who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about will probably ruin the opportunity for those that aren't completely uninformed idiots.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544498)

The USPS is borrowing money at below market rates from the US Treasury. Because of our deficits (less tax income than expenses) the US Treasury gets the money to lend to the USPS from issuing Treasury debt.

So the US debt is larger because of the USPS and this statement of yours "Whether or not the USPS exists has absolutely no effect on the national debt." is completely wrong.

Lastly, cool it with the name-calling.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544940)

Actually the USPS is borrowing from the US Treasury below market to fund the pension plan. The pension plan money is actually held an used US Treasury interest free... So the USPS is effectively paying the US Treasury interest on money it is loaning TO the US Treasury.

And if you don't like me calling a spade a spade you don't have to play.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545078)

The USPS had an operating loss of 8 billion in 2010. This has nothing to do with pensions. The USPS operates at a loss and borrows from the Treasury (taxpayer) to fund its operations.

If you think the USPS is fine then I suppose you would support privatizing it and cutting it off from the Treasury? If the USPS is so solid let it go to the capital markets for funds.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (2)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545308)

All of those losses were due to the pension costs they have without the pension charges the USPS would have actually ran about a 2 billion dollar profit.

As is the USPS is not fine because they run a deficit of any variety but I wouldn't be opposed to cutting them off from the treasury and vice versa (Though that would increase the deficit since the USPS pension plan is used to increase tax receipts and thus lower the deficit). This would put them on the same pension funding rules as every other corporation. Of course eliminating one day of delivery and raising the rates for shipping packages to something remotely close to other carriers would solve this.

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544952)

You do realize that the USPS gets exactly $0.00 from your taxes right? Not even a penny.

No, they get their money from the originators of the piles of spam deposited in my mailbox several times a week, right?

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545368)

Pretty much. Which is why there is no Do Not Mail list...

Re:It's a Makework Workshop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35546122)

Hogwash.

And Postal Employees get the same retirement and health benefits that most other federal workers get. (less than those of the President and Senate/Congress)

All government entities PAY the USPS for their postage used. Needless to say, this amounts to a tidy sum.

Of course, if data from the USPS is being used by the rest of the country, let's hope it's more reliable than when I mail a letter and it takes a week or two to get to the next town. I often get mail delivery at my house AFTER 5 PM, and it's not terribly uncommon to get it after 6 or 7.

I used to be a postal employee. Let's just say some of the employees, "go postal," at times.

Who would you rather have do legal surveillance, the post office, the military, or the spy agencies?

Like Driver Error? (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544140)

How about the first thing they report is when USPS trucks break driving laws? They don't even all have backup beepers. In New York City. Big heavy truck with no backup beeper that loads and unloads a lot in NYC? BAD idea.

when your mail reads you, then reads itself to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544232)

then it tells two friends..., it's all good news, from now on.

Re:when your mail reads you, then reads itself to (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544364)

so much for my "in People's Demokratik Amerika...." joke

Hopefully they can now report mail delivery! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544294)

In our area, for whatever reason, our mail gets delivered sometime in a 4 hour window. It's as likely that we'll have mail by noon as it is that we won't have it by 4pm. I've been thinking about putting some kind of sensor on the box that reports to us, but it's one of those shared boxes and space within our mail cubby is extremely limited, so it would really have to go outside the box. We figure the best bet would be to just set up a camera watching it with some image processing software.

But, this story has given me new hope that perhaps they will give us an RSS feed or something that we could watch.

PG&E, Utilities, Granted Unique Access, too. ( (2)

Web Goddess (133348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544304)

PG&E - Pacific Gas And Electric (and other utitilies) have full reign over entering my backyard to check my meter monthly. I've long wondered whether and/or when they'll team up with others to provide sensitive data to those with money.

Re:PG&E, Utilities, Granted Unique Access, too (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555252)

Indeed, this is a major reason why the utilities support the "smart meter" investment (it's also a good way to stop employing meter readers). But there's a big question as to who owns the information, and the utilities are solidly behind the position that they use the info and can use it as they see fit (i.e. sell it and use for marketing). Some details about how it can be misused are here [smartgridnews.com] .

The DoE actually says that the info is the customer's [energy.gov] . Sad to say legislation doesn't support that, and you can be sure that in the continuous struggle for increasing ARPU, the customer will get the shaft.

Why not federated? (2)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544312)

I worry about one single organization controlling all the aspects of this. Wouldn't it be better to publish an API and/or data format and have third-party fleets (fed-ex, taxis, bus operators, etc) collect the data for a fee? It seems like having layers of boundaries would help prevent abuse, particularly if the data was somehow intrinsically open. It also seems like sourcing the data from disinterested third parties could potentially lead to better/more data if the numbers work out right.

Re:Why not federated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35547922)

There are already 2-3 organizations that do this sort of thing. I hope they just buy an off the shelf one. Ever wonder where google and tom tom get that data. It is not from their own fleet of vehicles running around...

Honestly the USPS doing it is small fry compared to what some of these larger organizations are already doing and are planning on.

Let's reward the incompetent (0)

xkr (786629) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544332)

Oh, my God, could they possibly pick a more inept, sloppy and non-technological organization in the western world than the USPS. Not only are they the largest polluter on record (little mail trucks get 4 mpg) but they are the number one contributor to tree-cutting and filling land-fills.

The most sophisticate piece of equipment in the main post office near me is the time-clock.

Maybe the term “junk mail,” which the USPS calls, “standard mail,” because that is their performance standard, will be expanded to include “junk data,” which no no doubt will be renamed “standard data,” in their honor.

I hereby accept all parties for a bet that (1) any process they use for data collection will badly executed and (2) they will be so badly hacked that “post office root kits” will appear in grammar school science fairs.

Re:Let's reward the incompetent (3, Informative)

alfredo (18243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544914)

Actually, the Post Office has been automated for a long time. The letter sorting machines really cut costs and mistakes. I think they got them in the late 90's. They could sort something like 30,000 letters an hour. You must be in some back woods location if the time clock is the only machinery they have. In the 90's even the smallest PO had computers. Some of their mail was sorted by machine in a nearby town. "Junk mail" is how small businesses reaches customers that are not connected to the internet for reasons of money or location. The USPS has experimented with fuel efficiency (hybrids, electric). MPG is affected by the weight of the mail, and the stop and go driving from box to box. On my route I drove two miles, walked ten miles. My last vehicle was a S10 with an aluminum screwed and glued body by Cushman. The newer vehicles are lighter and more efficient. The data collection code and equipment will probably be provided by the businesses and agencies. I don't think the PO would be doing the coding. BTW, the Post Office has no control of pricing or markets they can enter. They are also required to have universal delivery. When I was a rural route carrier, there was one delivery 2 miles down a one lane road. So I had to do a 4 mile trip whether I had mail for him or not. There was an outside chance there was some outgoing mail, and I'd get my butt reamed if I missed it. There are the intangibles of the public servant/mailcarrier. Many lives have been saved, crimes solved and prevented, and child and animal abuse reported by mail carriers. Sometimes the only human contact the elderly have is their mailman. I used to check to see if one of my elderly customers remembered to take her medicine. We provide a sense of normalcy, and a human touch. There are a lot of lonely people out there, and a "hello, how are you" from the mailman might be enough to give temporary relief from the crushing loneliness many experience in this impersonal society.

Re:Let's reward the incompetent (2)

ChiChiCuervo (2445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545372)

Dittos to that. I don't think the social benefit of the USPS can be stressed enough.

My dad has been a carrier for the past 38 years. In this time he has:

Stopped a spree murderer.
IDd another man wanted for murder.
Alerted police to a hostage situation.
Physically apprehended an armed rapist in the act. (My mom damn near killed him for that)
Thwarted armed bank robberies... TWICE.
Called ambulances and social services for the injured, sick and elderly dozens of times
Reported dozens of incidents of elder, child, and animal abuse. ... And this is not out of the ordinary for our mail carriers. They know better than anyone, even neighbors oftentimes, when something is odd or out of place, and often disrupt criminal situations just by driving or walking up.

Re:Let's reward the incompetent (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35546610)

We become the eyes and ears of the community. I remember when the bush admin wanted to use mail carriers as homeland security snitches. We told them to fuck off. The job is dangerous enough without being pegged as a government agent. My route was so physically difficult three straight carriers, including myself, became 100% disabled. I don't know how my replacement has fared. My route was in "crack alley." Nobody wanted the route, so I took it. Until I got injured I enjoyed my route. The punks didn't mess with me. I knew their mothers. In the winter I found a lot of money on the route. The dealers dropped money because of cold hands and heavy clothing. The main supplier was the son of the richest man in town, so he had immunity. His street dealers got busted, but he never did. The cops knew who he was, but their hands were tied. They weren't happy about that.

Re:Let's reward the incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35550024)

Then why does my normal carrier get the mail here at 5:00 pm on average, but when he is on vacation the "substitute" will get it here by 2:00 pm at the latest? The mail was so bad in Chicago in 2006-2008 that we had to get politicians to contact the postmaster general cause mail was ending up at the wrong address or not at all. I got a credit card statement 6 MONTHS late. The USPS is a joke and I have gone to electronic notification and computerized bill payment. I get very few pieces of mail that I actually need anymore, most of it is just junk mail.

Side note, the devices on the trucks will no doubt have timestamps and the union will go against that.
Supervisor "Why was john's truck stopped at that park for 3 hours. There are not mailboxes there?"

Re:Let's reward the incompetent (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35550384)

When he is on vacation his route might be split up among other carriers. If there are delivery problems there could be either a carrier problem, management problem, or you might be the paranoid libertarian type that doesn't like their name on the mailbox. Three hour breaks would be discovered because his barcode reader would show the time gap. BTW, the union doesn't stand behind the incompetent. I've seen them tell a goldbrick to shape up, or they will pull their support. That would mean they would not defend him over and above making sure the firing is legal. (that protects the union and the PO) the union does police it's own. We don't like problems to get to the point where management has to act.

Corporate spying (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544504)

When I was in the process of retiring one supervisor talked about the PO adding GPS to trucks to gather information on carriers. He said they would be able to track every action from whether the emergency brake is on, doors locked, speed, time between stopping and starting on walking loops. It seemed like just too much micro management of the carriers. Carriers work really hard, and didn't need the aggravation of being watched constantly.

Re:Corporate spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35544916)

USPS already has one means of doing this: http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/cs04/chp2_015.html [slashdot.org] , cropping up all over the place.

The MSP program is intended to improve consistency in the time of day that mail is delivered to customers. The program uses mobile data collection devices to scan barcodes placed strategically along the city carrier's line of travel.

Basically they put a barcode on a few mailboxes in each neighborhood, and the carrier has to scan the box to log the delivery time. If it amounts to better delivery service then I'm for MSP. I suspect that tracking of delivery employees is far more intrusive at UPS, FedEx, etc.

This new sensor thing is whole 'nother ball of wax though.

Oh Yay... (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544592)

New vector for surveillance. We all know that the government never exceeds the scope of its stated intent.

Postal Subsidy ... (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35544890)

Courtesy of the NSA.

Cookies? (2)

Polo (30659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35546382)

Maybe the USPS could attach (innocuous) physical cookies to people when they receive their mail and use the USPS fleet to (anonymously) track their offline activities. I think this would revolutionize offline marketing and help the economy.

Re:Cookies? (1)

Geminii (954348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35546834)

I forsee a market in cookie removers and cookies which read "Advertise to me and die in a smelter."

Great (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35546566)

Now how about moving to Electric cars. Seriously, The USPS could make a dent in lowering their costs, as well as getting electric cars in the USA moving. They currently buy most of their vehicles from AM General, which are basically CJ-5's, called DJ5s. Instead, AM General could produce an electric version that got 40-50 miles on a charge. That might sound low, but the average USPS vehicle travels less than 30 miles daily(yes, that little). So, with 40-50 miles / charge, they have plenty left over. And if AM General did this up right, they would get a load of work their way.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35550196)

Now how about moving to Electric cars. Seriously, The USPS could make a dent in lowering their costs, as well as getting electric cars in the USA moving. They currently buy most of their vehicles from AM General, which are basically CJ-5's, called DJ5s. Instead, AM General could produce an electric version that got 40-50 miles on a charge. That might sound low, but the average USPS vehicle travels less than 30 miles daily(yes, that little). So, with 40-50 miles / charge, they have plenty left over. And if AM General did this up right, they would get a load of work their way.

Which decade do you live in? The actual jeeps were done away with long ago. Now they are using differing versions of the LLV, FFV, and Uplanders. The LLV's which are still on the road started hitting the streets about 1987 and produced by Grummand. They were supposed to start around 83 but it took the other manufacturers 4 years to stop sueing the Post Office to finally get one on the road.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35556442)

Gee, that is awefully nice, but the vehicle that I have seen in use is the DJ-5.
In addition, I can not POSSIBLE imagine why AM General would EVER want to win back a contract, along with selling civilian, military, and commercial electric vehicles.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597292)

The last DJ5s were scrapped almost 10 years ago. AM General has not produced a postal vehicle since that time. The most common light delivery vehicle today is the LLV; they were produced from 1987 ti 1994, using a modified Chevy S10 chassis with a Grumman built aluminum body. Except for those totaled in wrecks, all of them are still in service today; there are many 24 year old trucks still delivering mail. 8-11 mpg is typical; remember that these trucks get very heavy stop and go usage. USPS is testing electric vehicles in some locations, and uses electric step vans for regular service in Manhattan. They have had electric vehicles under test or in the fleet almost continuously for at least 30 years, including some in the 90s that used the same technology as the GM EV electric cars. USPS also has the largest fleet of alternative fuel vehicles in the USA, including CNG, LNG, ethanol and biofuels.

Expand the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35548196)

On the surface it sounds like a great idea for them to collect all this useful data. However, I really hope it is expanded to collect RF information being transmitted from my wallet... from the chips in my credit cards, bank cards, drivers license, passport, etc. I sure hope this data is collected and used so government bodies can more accurately track my movements and information about the companies I do business with. If they do it right, I suspect the junk mail in my mailbox would be far more relevant to the things I do.

Because after all, I really would like a closer relationship with my governing body. I just dont feel like we know each other well enough yet. I got to 3rd base with airmiles, but in time I feel I could go all the way USPS.

better information from an untapped resource (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35550438)

Ravnitzky's idea to put passve sensors on USPS vehicles is brilliant. Rapid implementation of emerging technology is one of the keys to America competing successfully. These sensors could improve productivity, improve early detection of an incident, improve recovery from a disaster, and more. Most amazing the Post Office and Postmaster General "getting it".

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