A new service known as Informed Delivery is being tested nowadays by the United States Postal Service (USPS), and will consist in sending customers e-mails showing photos of incoming correspondence.
Basically, at the beginning of every day, usually before 11:00 a.m. EST, it will be possible to receive notifications regarding the contents of one’s mailbox, but this will refer strictly to envelopes the size of a letter.
The electronic messages which will be easily accessed via computer or smartphone will contain a maximum of 10 black and white pictures showing just the front cover of each document received by snail mail.
Extra photos will also be provided on the user’s online account, where it will also be able to monitor packages that are currently en route. Moreover, some notifications will include color images, as well as links providing more relevant information.
It must be stated that the customer’s privacy will not be breached in any way, given that the postal mail will not actually be opened and accessed by USPS employees.
Instead, the letters will be handled solely by automatic equipment, which will be processing incoming correspondence and scanning each post item in order to provide the intended recipient with photographs.
Aside from the fact that Informed Delivery will permit clients to track the contents of their mailboxes without having to physically check them on a daily basis, it will also give those who are on holiday the chance to be notified when important letters show up at their home.
The service has actually been available to a small number of customers from Northern Virginia ever since 2014, but now it will be more broadly available, being extended across New York City as well.
Provided that this project takes off and benefits from positive feedback from customers, is expected that starting from 2016 more U.S. cities will follow suit and implement it.
Those whose Zip Code is included in the list currently covered by this service only have to register on the Postal Service website (http://realmail.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action), so as to be part of the My USPS program, and benefit from Informed Delivery.
The professed aim of this service is to revamp snail mail and to improve customer satisfaction for those who rely on the U.S. Postal Service.
It may also be an attempt to pacify public opinion, after in 2013 postmaster general Patrick Donahoe acknowledged that all the packages and letters sent across the United States are photographed as part of the Mail Isolation and Tracking project.
This was initiated following several deadly anthrax attacks in 2001, and has been instrumental in solving a few criminal cases, aside from permitting mail to be sorted more effectively.
Informed Delivery will be available free of charge, and will be easily accessible from Monday to Saturday, given that on Sunday no mail is being processed.
So far, the service doesn’t provide any information regarding parcels, and refers solely to letter-sized mailbox documents, but it is expected that other flat publications such as magazines or catalogs will also be included, as operations become more extensive.
In addition, at the moment this new functionality is only targeted at individuals who wish to receive emails regarding the content of their home mailboxes, but eventually it might also be provided to corporate clients as well.
Image Source: USPS