The Post Office gets Smart

Cyber Postman

July 9, 2019

I’ve written a lot about my enthusiasm for smart homes. My two WiFi-enabled smart thermostats, the sensor that alerts me via App when my garage door goes up or down, etc.

But the US Postal Service has an offering that makes one’s physical mail smart: their free Informed Delivery Service. In the Amazon Age (which is also the Age of Stealing Packages off one’s porch), this is very cool…

When you sign up, you start getting email messages each morning that include face scans of the mail that will be delivered that day. For me, that’s mostly pictures of Capital One mailers. But the point is you get to see what left your post office that morning. If you’re expecting something important, you can SEE that it’s close. You can even plan your day around swinging by to get it.

If you have a package that’s being delivered by USPS, it’ll display that in the email too.

Oh, and did I mention this also works when you’re on vacation, and your mail is on hold? You’ll still get the daily images via email.

In the age of bytes, you still have to concern yourself with the safety of atoms — physical things like mail.

On rare occasions, you’ll have an image of a piece of mail that was scanned that morning that doesn’t show up. It arrives the next day — my guess is that it made it onto the truck, but not into the Postman’s hand as he walks his route.

I don’t know how widespread USPS has promoted this feature, but I would think with the long slow slide of sending mail, anything to differentiate (or equal) the functionality of Amazon and UPS would be a good thing.

As a technology product, this makes me realize how so much of the motivations of IT vacillates between The Commons (the original 1990s Internet) and CyberLibertarianism. You could say that the point of Smart Home technologies (the Ring doorbell camera, security cameras and motion detectors on one’s house) are to do for oneself what the police of your town can’t easily do — protect your home’s physical stuff without relying on the government.

This site (from 2017) walks you through setting it up.  Enjoy!

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