Can USPS cash in on its geolocation data?
- By Mark Rockwell
- Oct 23, 2020
With more than 220,000 vehicles delivering mail to households and businesses across the country, the U.S. Postal Service has amassed quite a bit of geospatial address location data it hopes to use to expand its revenue streams.
“We know a lot about mapping,” said Lauren Lee, the Postal Service's director of digital business services.. “We pick up data from the carriers as they’re traversing their routes in one-second breadcrumbs or geocode of locations. ... Sometimes our carriers are in areas before mapping companies even know there are roads there.”
“We’re looking at creating new address and geospatial services to offer to the geospatial marketplace for mapping,” Lee said during an Oct. 22 presentation hosted by the General Services Administration's Technology Transformation Services
USPS vehicles, Lee said, could also be mounted with sensors to gather other specialized data -- measuring broadband spectrum levels, air quality and road conditions, for instance. Monitoring road conditions could be valuable to local communities who can use it to more effectively identify where repairs and improvements may be needed, she suggested.
“We’re in the R&D space with this at the moment,” she said, noting there are significant privacy protections that need to be developed, including data collection and anonymization methods.
When fully developed, the service will join other USPS data-as-a-service offerings. USPS has been working with the FBI on a fingerprinting-as-a-service offering at over 100 post offices across the country, according to Heather Dyer, director of identity and access management at the USPS chief information security office.
The agency began that pilot in 2018. The program is aimed at identity verification for the public for background checks, visa applications and child adoptions. The USPS takes fingerprints at the post offices and passes them off to the FBI for processing. The service, said Dyer, has shortened a weeks-long process to hours or even minutes.
This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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