The U.S. Postal Service announced on Monday that it will be slowing down its delivery service, among other actions, beginning next spring in order to cut costs and try to keep from entering bankruptcy. The action is an attempt to eliminate $3 billion in costs.
Mail would be slowed so that first-class mail could take twice as long and "next-day" delivery for mail sent across town would be a thing of the past.
The Postal Service is obviously hurting but will lengthening delivery times, closing offices and process centers, and reducing potential retiree benefits really make people use the U.S. mail system more? Some of these actions are not imminent, as Congressional permission is required and postal legislation is tied up in both the House and Senate.
Rather than continuing to rely on a paper-based service, should the Postal Service become an innovator and look to the future of communications, rather than the past? Specifically, should the Postal Service become a leader in the cybersecurity space and lead the charge on document and data-rights management controls?
USPS could build off its exclusive registered and certified mail offerings. The value of such services is that the materials are mailed "securely," with accountability and delivery tracking. (For certified, the mail's passage is confirmed, while in registered, each step along the way the mail's progress is confirmed).
What if USPS used technology to provide certified and registered mail online? The agency could ensure that mail is encrypted and access is managed. Rather than waiting days to receive important documents, people could receive them instantly with the USPS validating their authenticity and security.
Some people may wonder whether such a service really would be secure. I actually think it could be more secure than paper certified and registered mail. Currently, if I send a letter, it passes physically from hand to hand. There is generally little verification that the piece of mail reaches the intended recipient.
Online, the exchanges would be fewer and, with technology, safeguards could be put in place so that the recipient would have to verify his/her identification to retrieve the mail from their mailbox.
It's a thought for the Postal Service, as the agency addresses the need to drastically adapt to a more technologically based society, where people are more likely to communicate via smart phones and tablets than by mail.