RARC-WP-15-013 - 08/03/2015
The Internet of Things refers to interconnecting networks of physical objects embedded with digital sensors that can collect, transmit, and act upon a wide variety of data. The Office of Inspector General, in conjunction with IBM, examined how this technology could be applied to create an Internet of Postal Things (IoPT) that could increase efficiency, lower costs, generate revenue, and improve customer service.
In our report, we note that the Postal Service has a vast and rich infrastructure that could be adapted to create an IoPT. We also identify more than a dozen IoPT applications that could be developed in four key categories:
- Transportation and logistics — Sensors on postal vehicles to increase efficiency through predictive maintenance, fuel management, and real-time dynamic routing.
- Smart postal buildings — Sensors to not only increase security and reduce energy consumption, but also improve customer convenience through, for example, equipping clerks with wearables to help them find what customers need.
- Neighborhood services — Sensors on postal vehicles, carrier devices, and mailboxes that could perform tasks useful to local authorities, such as monitoring air quality or identifying potholes.
- Enhanced mail and parcel services — A mailbox, for example, that could “sign” for parcel delivery, store it securely, and notify the recipient of its arrival.
We also discuss how the Postal Service can start building the IoPT in ways that account for privacy and other concerns.