Reinventing the Postal Sector in an Electronic Age
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Reinventing the Postal Sector in an Electronic Age

Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer

This compilation of original essays by an international cast of economists, regulators and industry practitioners analyzes some of the major issues now facing postal and delivery services throughout the world as competition from information and communication technologies has increased.
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Chapter 26: Offering Sensor Network Services Using the Postal Delivery Vehicle Fleet

Michael J. Ravnitzky


* Michael J. Ravnitzky† 1 INTRODUCTION Postal operators, for example, the US Postal Service (USPS), or their business partners could offer a novel category of data collection services arising from the ubiquity and route structure of the postal delivery fleet. This chapter, for the first time, proposes that mobile sensors mounted on postal trucks could collect and aggregate a variety of important data as a byproduct of postal delivery, taking advantage of efficiencies of scope and scale. The data collected might include, among others, air pollution levels, weather data, sensing of chemical and biological agents, and areas of weak cell phone service. If the market challenges could be addressed, these services could provide substantial public good. Section 2 provides a description of the technologies involved and the basic rationale for integrating sensor network services with postal operations. Section 3 describes potential applications. Section 4 discusses market aspects and mechanisms for developing functioning markets. Section 5 provides conclusions. 2 TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION AND RATIONALE Sensors mounted on postal trucks could collect and upload important local data as a byproduct of postal delivery. USPS or its business partners could lease out space on selected postal trucks to permit installation of smart sensors with radio links to collect and transmit various types of data, and record the location and time of each piece of data. Postal routes are tailor-made for a sensor network because postal delivery routes reflect locations of human activity and the trucks traverse those routes daily. The existing set of routes closely...

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