Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Going postal could become going Stasi

Not content with losing money as a hopelessly inefficient government-run monopoly in delivering the mail, the USPS may start providing a "platform" for data collecting.  So the top lawyer to the Postal Regulatory Commission's chairman imagines:
The service’s thousands of delivery vehicles have only one purpose now: to transport mail. But what if they were fitted with sensors to collect and transmit information about weather or air pollutants? The trucks would go from being bulky tools of industrial-age communication to being on the cutting edge of 21st-century information-gathering and forecasting.
After all, the delivery fleet already goes to almost every home and business in America nearly every day, and it travels fixed routes along a majority of the country’s roads to get there. Data collection wouldn’t require much additional staff or resources; all it would take would be a small, cheap and unobtrusive sensor package mounted on each truck. (This idea is mine alone, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Postal Regulatory Commission.)...
Over the next few years the Postal Service must figure out what role it will play in a world where new modes of communication and information-gathering seem to emerge every few years. Postal delivery trucks that go everywhere nearly every day are positioned to fill that role — without sacrificing the vital task of delivering the nation’s mail.
[Photo of CCTV unit truck in the UK: Dan at skyscapercity.com]

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