Mail Carriers Tracked with GPS Tracking Devices

1 Aug 2013

Part 2: Mail carriers feel more heat from GPS

 

Flip phones are not archaic electronic devices; they’re part of a plan to track mail carrier routes with built-in GPS trackers.

In a similar way that UPS drivers (and your packages) are tracked, letter carriers are tracked with GPS tracking and Bluetooth technology.

Some areas of the United States already have this program implemented, causing mail carriers to move as quickly as possible through neighborhoods in order to get mail delivered on time.

The flip phones are linked electronically with a handheld scanner mail carriers are already equipped with.  They carry a scanner to record barcodes on deliveries and attempted deliveries. This is usually on Priority or Express mail, deliveries with delivery confirmation, and many different packages. The scanner does track some of the mail carrier’s activities at mailboxes along their route that has barcode stickers, but these only provide simple tracking capabilities. The number of barcodes has increased, but it still isn’t enough to get accurate tracking.

This is where the GPS tracking and Bluetooth technology comes in. With the phone and scanner on their person, data is sent from the scanner every 15 minutes. The amount of time it takes the mail carrier to get through their route is undoubtedly tracked.

“Cell phones will be carried by employees at all times they are on the street performing delivery or pick-up duties,” , the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) told RuralInfo.Net:

The GPS tracking works in real time and lets their management team analyze data about deliveries and pick-up services.

One of the reasons this system has been implemented is to compete with other delivery services, such as FedEx and UPS.  In urban areas, package delivery is a huge business, so USPS is hoping to be a decent competitor.

They’re hoping major retailers choose USPS to send packages from online stores, such as Walmart, who currently uses UPS. USPS does get business, however, from Amazon on the east coast. Another service being offered by USPS is MetroPost, which helps businesses in San Francisco, California, get their local packages delivered on time.

As with all new forms of technology, there are some concerns from the postal workers. Mail carriers, it seems, have to rush a little more than usual, in order to meet their daily time goals.  Some worry they will be disciplined if they take too long to complete their routes.”We are definitely on a time constraint everyday. We get a set amount of time to finish our routes,” said mail carrier  Drew Heinig to reporters.

If data is being uploaded when they’re making a delivery, the mail carrier has to wait before scanning the package. There is also the worry of the flip phones being lost or stolen, or just getting wet on a rainy day.

While mail carriers may not be entirely onboard with being tracked throughout their workday, the USPS insists it will be good for the entire company.

“The Postal Service has a responsibility to the public, mailing industry, and its employees to continually improve the efficiency of its operations,” David Partenheimer, spokesman for USPS, told reporters.

As for the future of USPS mail carrier routes being tracked: It’s expected to reach all post offices in the country by the of 2013.

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