• on Jan 13th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    What if the U.S. Postal Service tapped the vast array of available digital information technologies to enhance sales, operations, and new business development? The possibilities, it would seem, while not endless, are fairly extensive.

    That’s the conclusion of a just-released white paper from the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG), which collaborated with IBM to take a high-level view of digital information gathering to see where the postal industry might benefit. The white paper, Enriching Postal Information: Applications for Tomorrow’s Technologies, identifies those opportunities most relevant to the postal industry. We found more than 50 potential postal applications where gathering digital information could enhance the Postal Service’s sales, operations, and new product development, as well as improve its internal safety and security controls. Such items include banking services, traffic information, and assistance to elderly citizens.

    A few highlights from the paper:

    • Cutting-edge organizations see digital information technology only as a means to satisfy market demands and control costs. Such organizations are focusing on mobile handhelds, barcodes, and Radio Frequency Identification applications to collect data about their customers and operations. Many are consistently researching and investing in a wide variety of information gathering technologies. For example, UPS invests more than $1 billion annually to design customer-centric applications, customized scanning tools, and advanced communication devices, as well as, to increase internal efficiencies.
    • The Postal Service is also exploring the potential of mobile devices but on a much smaller scale than UPS. For example, the Postal Service recently gave cell phones capable of texting and gathering real-time GPS data to about 95 percent of its street letter carriers. The information being collected should improve delivery efficiencies via better route designs, day-to-day adjustments, and monitoring delivery times. The Postal Service is planning to deploy 75,000 full-service digital mobile carrier devices by the summer of 2014.

    So what information would you like the Postal Service to gather for you? How would you put it to use? Are there any areas of information technology that concern you? 

  • on Dec 11th, 2013 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 3 comments

    Wouldn’t it be nice to receive only the advertising mail that interests you? Information about products and services you like or want to learn about, and nothing else? And wouldn’t it be nice for advertisers to know more about what recipients think about their ads? Is an offer appealing, but the timing is not right, or is a recipient completely uninterested?

    Creating a system to share this information is a possibility, and the U.S. Postal Service could play a key role in making it happen. That’s the concept of a new white paper released by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General today. Strengthening Advertising Mail by Building a Digital Information Market highlights the importance of maintaining and strengthening advertising mail by enabling more direct communication from mail recipients ultimately back to the advertiser.

    Ad mailings could then be targeted with almost pinpoint accuracy, increasing revenues for advertisers and reducing recycling for everyone. The system would benefit the Postal Service, too, by making ad mail even more relevant and valuable.

    One potential approach starts with using a smart phone or tablet to scan a digital code on the front of a piece of ad mail you receive, and then accessing an interactive system into which you can record your advertising preferences. In return, you are sent a coupon redeemable for merchandise from a variety of vendors, and in the future you would receive ads tailored to products and services of interest to you. Participation would be strictly voluntary, and privacy guidelines would be established.

    Tell us what you think! Do you think customers would be inclined to access an interactive system to record advertising preferences if it meant special offers or more targeted mailings in the future? 

  • on Oct 25th, 2013 in OIG | 0 comments

    On July 26, 1775, all you needed to deliver the mail was a strong back and a fast horse. In 2013, the tools required to move 40 percent of the world’s mail sound more at home in science fiction. Robots, supercomputers, 23 petabytes of digital storage (that’s 24,117,248 Gigabytes), and one of the world’s largest computer networks help deliver letters and parcels across the globe. Like any organization of its size and profile, the Postal Service regularly sees malicious activity directed at its network. The Office of Inspector General's Computer Crimes Unit (CCU) works closely with the Postal Service's Corporate Information Security Office to investigate and prosecute threats to Postal Service networks and information resources.




    Information security is a shared responsibility and we need your help to keep the Postal Service network secure. So as we close out National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we share some simple steps that go a long way toward improving security:

    • Keep a clean computer – keep your anti-virus, operating system, and software programs updated. Many attacks exploit vulnerabilities in unpatched systems that could be prevented simply by keeping current with updates.
    • Be wary of emails and websites soliciting personal information or login credentials, even if they look real. Also be suspicious of unexpected emails, especially those with attachments.
    • Use strong passwords – good passwords use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, and numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for each of your accounts
    • For our customers, beware of bogus package delivery notification messages and Change of Address websites. Find out about these schemes and how to avoid becoming a victim on the Postal Inspection Service's (https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/pressroom/schemealerts.aspx) page.
    • For Postal employees and contractors, please stay vigilant and report suspected security incidents or suspicious activity immediately to the Computer Incident Response Team at USPSCIRT[at]usps[dot]gov or call 866-USPS-CIRT (866-877-7247).

    For more information on how to stay safe online, visit http://www.staysafeonline.org/.

    We’re here to support our Postal Service customers around the clock and can be reached via the OIG main number at 703-248-2100. You can also report security incidents to us online via the OIG Hotline or at 888-USPS-OIG (888-877-7644).

    We welcome your input on information security. If you are a business, how do you educate your employees and customers about the importance of information security? Consumers and employees, are there ways the Postal Service could strengthen their systems? 

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