Postal Service geo-fence tech promising, but not quite ready

Geo-fence technology could make the U.S. Postal Service more efficient, but it’s not quite ready for prime time, according to an August 14 report from the USPS inspector general.

Geo-fence technology leverages global positioning system signals to create virtual geographic zones that ensure delivery personnel stay on schedule and on their routes.

According to the IG, the Postal Service is currently developing and testing a delivery management system (DMS) that includes geo-fence technology to improve efficiency. Under the system, if a delivery driver ventures from a predetermined route, a supervisor would receive an email or text message alerting them of the deviation.

With this technology, delivery supervisors will be able to analyze whether or not a driver is ahead or behind of schedule on their route.


If a driver pivots from his or her expected route, whether permitted or not, a supervisor will receive a text or email notification. Source: USPS OIG If a driver deviates from his or her expected route, whether permitted or not, a supervisor will receive a text or email notification.
Source: USPS OIG

The IG found, however, that the DMS contained a flaw – if a driver takes on additional stops that are not part of his or her normal route, the data obtained by DMS would not be correct. The system would interpret the driver’s additional stops and route changes as a deviation from a planned route and deem that driver to be behind schedule even if the additional stops and changes were authorized. The inaccuracy comes with a variance in the scan data of managed service points (MSPs) as the carrier moves through his or her route.

USPS management planned to address the problem by April; however, according to the IG, as of July the flaw still existed.

“The Postal Service’s planned use of geo-fence technology will increase carrier visibility to aid supervisors in performing street management,” the report said. “Our analysis shows that MSP scan variances would be accurate on regular routes, but inaccurate when there are authorized route deviations.”


The report recommended that the Postal Service modify DMS to capture adjustments for time and location projects if a carrier is assigned an altered route before the system goes national.

According to the report, the Postal Service management agreed with the findings and recommendations. The Postal Service plans to update the software to account for route deviation by Sept. 30.

Jake Williams

Written by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is a Staff Reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop. At StateScoop, he covers the information technology issues and events at state and local governments across the nation. In the past, he has covered the United States Postal Service, the White House, Congress, cabinet-level departments and emerging technologies in the unmanned aircraft systems field for FedScoop. Before FedScoop, Jake was a contributing writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has had work published in the Huffington Post and several regional newspapers and websites in Pennsylvania. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, Jake graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. At IUP, Jake was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Penn, and the president of the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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