on May 29th, 2012
in Strategy & Public Policy
| 1 comment
When online, how do you know who you’re really communicating with? Does that affect your shopping or banking habits? Do you know people who don’t use the Internet much because they are afraid of identity theft? The latest statistics from a Pew Research Center study demonstrate the pull of the Internet: •80 percent of Americans are users, whether through personal computer, tablet, or smartphone; •many of those users do not conduct any kind of commerce; •30 percent have not made a purchase online; •and 40 percent do not bank online. Would a more secure approach to online identity raise those figures? The Office of Inspector General’s new paper Digital Identity: Opportunities for the Postal Service examines the world of digital identity as well as many existing digital authentication solutions, including pilot projects, and potential roles for the Postal Service in the digital identity ecosystem. The paper posits that there is a need for a trusted and neutral body to identify, authenticate, and certify users in a straightforward manner that reduces sign-up friction and maintains privacy with very clear, concise, and enforceable policy guidelines. The Postal Service, given its national presence, physical infrastructure, and history of protecting privacy, could operate in a number of roles: •As a Trusted Third Party Online – The Postal Service could verify individual or business addresses (with permission from each user) for other organizations to facilitate eCommerce or other online transactions. •As an Identity Provider – The Postal Service could offer its own digital identity service, an opt-in service verifying attributes of consumers, businesses and organizations. •Providing in-Person Verification Services – The Postal Service could expand the work it already does for passports and offer in-person verification of mailing addresses through its network of post offices and postal carriers. What do you think? Is there a role for the Postal Service in digital identity? Share your thoughts below!
on May 21st, 2012
in Ideas Worth Exploring
| 6 comments
Though there has been a steady decline of customers’ usage of First-Class Mail™ over the last decade, writing and sending letters through the U.S. mail used to be very popular ways of letting someone know you cared. For example, many of us remember when we were kids waiting anxiously for the delivery of the mail to see whether that special birthday present from Grandma and Granddad had arrived. And, with sincere gratitude, many of us remember penning a letter to Grandma and Granddad, thanking them for that special birthday present. Family members often read, reflect on, and cherish letters exchanged decades ago between family, lovers, and friends. These letters often serve as time machines, transporting younger generations back to an era where they can gain fascinating insight into their loved ones’ lives or valuable information about the family dynamics of previous generations. Writing and sending letters is a time honored tradition that offers tangible evidence that the writer cares or doesn’t care about the recipient of the letter. Letters and greeting cards visually connect the receiver to the sender through handwriting, images, or messages in the letter or greeting card. Experian QAS, a provider of address management solutions, found that most people prefer to receive greeting cards. The company surveyed 500 respondents about their greeting card preferences, and 92 percent preferred receiving greeting cards mailed through the postal services over receiving e-cards. Email messages, on the other hand, have their advantages. For example, emails can be sent and received instantly wherever there is Internet service. Email does not require physical storage and if the receiver doesn’t want anyone to read the email, it can be password protected or discarded with a click of the mouse. Yet, with all the modern conveniences of emails, how many people remember the first email they ever sent or received? How many people can appreciate the sensory connection to a loved one through an email? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Office of Audit.
on May 14th, 2012
in Strategy & Public Policy
| 3 comments
Do you ever wonder about the future? Will flying cars ever arrive? Are video phones here at last? Will the end of paper finally come? Businesses can greatly benefit from knowing a little about future possibilities. At a time of great social and technological transition, understanding what might lie ahead can help businesses – like the Postal Service - prepare themselves to adapt. Deutsche Post DHL, the logistics and delivery company, commissioned a study to look at the world in 2050. The study, Delivering Tomorrow - Logistics 2050, was prepared with the help of a firm of futurists and foresight experts. Through interviews with key experts, the study’s authors determined 14 key factors that could influence the future of logistics such as income growth and trends in trade regulation. Then, they investigated potential outcomes for these factors. The possibilities were combined into five potential visions of the future: • Untamed Economy – Impending Collapse – World income grows rapidly, and globalization continues. The sheer pace of the growth threatens to strain natural resources. Logistics firms are critical for transporting goods through a logistics supergrid. • Mega-efficiency in Megacities – People live in urban metropolises that have managed to solve many of the problems of dense urban growth such as traffic jams. Rural areas are left behind as economic activity becomes increasingly concentrated in these giant megacities, which are connected by logistics firms. • Customized Lifestyles – A revolution in 3-D printing lets people make goods very near where they live. This allows for an incredible increase in customization and individualization. It also means that there is far less need to transport goods across the world. • Paralyzing Protectionism – Globalization falters as countries retreat into protected regional trade blocs. Even the Internet splits apart. Technological development lags, infrastructure crumbles, and resource scarcity slows economic growth. Regional logistics champions carry goods, and customs clearance takes weeks. • Global Resilience – Local Adaptation – Natural disasters, crises, and attacks make resilience and redundancy critical. Businesses use adaptable technology, such as production facilities that can turn off and on as needed. Redundancy is expensive so standards of living are lower. Trade is regionalized rather than global, and logistics firms focus on security rather than timeliness. What do you think of these visions of the future? (Keep in mind the short descriptions above only hint at the full scenarios in the paper.) What role will the U.S. Postal Service play?
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