Postal Service as Mobile Urban Data Collector

The U.S. Postal Service operates a massive fleet of trucks and vans throughout the country. Michael Ravnitzky argues that this fleet could be easily modified to collect data about the places the vehicles go.

He suggests the fleet could collect data on weather conditions and air pollutants throughout cities.

"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.)

The key elements for the project already exist, including tiny, inexpensive G.P.S. receivers and radio uplinks, features found in today's smart phones. The sensors would operate without distracting the drivers from their primary responsibilities. The service could also minimize startup costs by teaming up with a company to develop, install and operate the equipment. One company under contract with the National Weather Service is already installing environmental sensors on long-haul commercial buses to enhance weather forecasting."

Full Story: The Postman Always Pings Twice

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