It goes without saying the US Postal System is immense. It also, unsurprisingly, collects a vast amount of data- parcels are scanned up to 11 times en route, meaning up to 11.7 trillion data points can be potentially accrued this year. The “Internet of Postal Things” project was started to leverage this data, and use it to optimise logistics and service.
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General has published a report on the opportunities this project could uncover. “The convergence between the increasing amount of actionable data, the ubiquity of network connectivity to integrate and share this data, and the rapid development of analytics may open up a new world of opportunities for postal operators — the ‘Internet of Postal Things’.”
One of the main opportunities may come from harvesting sensor data from vehicles, sorting centres, individual parcels and postboxes. Analysing this rich and varied of information could allow the US Postal Service to optimise routes, maintenance and report blind spots in wireless network coverage. The data could also find uses outside of the immediate remit of the postal service- sensor data from trucks, for example, could be given to municipalities as insights into road quality and the location of potholes.
Many other national postage organisations have already begun harnessing big data. In Germany, DHL offers businesses access to Geovista, a premium goemarketing tool which offers insights to socio-demographics and consumption patterns. Such information can be extremely useful for businesses trying to decide where to open their next retail location. In France, La Poste is collaborating with software companies on new services to leverage its postcode, post office and change of address data.
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The US Postal Service recently issued a solicitation for a company “who has the expertise and critical knowledge of the Internet of Things, data strategy and analytics, and the Postal Service’s operations, infrastructure, products, and services.” Applications closed this weekend, and chosen company is expected to be announced by the end of the month.
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