Now maybe we know what the head of the Postal Regulatory Commission means when she says the U.S. Postal Service has not pursued all of its possible business opportunities under current law.
What some view as the Postal Service’s ball and chain – the obligation to deliver to every address – could become a competitive advantage for a variety of businesses if mobile sensors were mounted on letter carriers’ trucks, according to Michael J. Ravnitzky, chief counsel to PRC chair Ruth Goldway.
“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,” says a paper Ravnitzky recently presented.
They go everywhere
“Postal delivery trucks that go everywhere nearly every day offer a unique platform, and a valuable opportunity, to fulfill important additional national objectives. As postal trucks travel the neighborhoods of America (and other nations), they could also collect data important to the country’s safety, security, well-being and economic progress.”
Using existing technology, Ravnitzky writes, such sensors could also map potholes, sniff out methamphetamine labs and marijuana farms, read utility meters, scan license plates to identify stolen cars, take “street view” photos, and disperse “pheromones to disrupt and confuse the insect courtship and mating processes” of gypsy moths, mosquitoes, and other pests.” (Speaking of pest control, I know of some letter carriers who’d want a spray that keeps postal supervisors off their backs.)
The slide show accompanying Ravnitzky’s paper says the presentation represents his views and not those of his employer. But the paper was posted on the PRC’s Web site this week. And a previous Ravnitzky paper on electric delivery vehicles (See The United States Postal Service & Power Company?) grew out of a Goldway article and seemed to influence her statements on the subject.