As costs associated with mail delivery rise, the U.S. Postal Service is looking for ways to compensate with technology and data unrelated to postal services, according to a new report.
Costs related to USPS’s last-mile delivery network have increased to $21.1 billion in fiscal 2018 from $17.7 billion in fiscal 2008 — a 19.4% increase that has resulted in losses of $69 billion, according to a December report by the Government Accountability Office. As a result, USPS has looked for innovative ways to offset that difference.
For instance, in 2018, a company worked with USPS on several pilot projects to collect data for road and pavement assessments by installing sensors on mail trucks. Although the USPS earned no revenue for its role, it is considering the concept of using its fleet for similar purposes in the future.
A bit longer ago — in 2014 — USPS participated in a pilot with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in which mail carriers volunteered to carry radiological detectors and cell phone transmitters during normal deliveries. Those sensors gathered and transmitted data to DARPA, and USPS was reimbursed $39,219 for costs associated with the project. USPS, however, opted not to pursue additional pilots in 2015 out of concerns about public perception of privacy violations.