The Problem: There is no connection between postal facilities and places.
The postal industry is evolving and that affects places
A decline of mail volume; an increase of parcel deliveries, a universal service mandate; pension costs, policy changes, and a competitive marketplace result in evolving physical facilities
Suspended facilities perpetuate and accelerate disinvestment
Hundreds of Postal properties linger in a state of potential and/or permanent suspension
Communities bear the cost
Geographically isolated and/or distressed places have the most functional utility of postal facilities and are affected the most by suspended and/or closed facilities
The Solution: Transform underutilized postal facilities into hubs of smart and connected development to benefit the most vulnerable places.
Unified approach to integrate different complimentary services
Integrated with local data and smart infrastructure
Value added for property owners and communities alike
Resilient for industry evolution and changing community conditions.
Outposts adapt and optimize strategic USPS facilities to benefit communities.
Interventions to include: distributed energy generation and storage, food banking and distribution, ICT solutions, community service partnerships, environmental monitoring
The objective of this investigation was to establish a conceptual framework and preliminary recommendations for where and how USPS facilities can incorporate a series of programmatic and physical modifications to address community needs in vulnerable places - without disrupting core postal services.
In doing so, this assessment seeks to inform how The City of Pittsburgh / Allegheny County can serve as test bed to integrate USPS facilities into the regional Resilience Strategy and couple with existing a place-based revitalization activities. See the full White Paper here.
What is the idea & Why is it important?
Framing the Need, the Solution, and Additional Context
The key to optimizing the location and functionality of existing postal facilities to increase community resilience is to partner with the network of approximately 24,000 privately owned postal facilities. Targeting multi-tenant buildings in zip codes with high poverty indicators, declining population, and/or low broadband capacity yield priority locations for identifying facilities at risk of suspension or permanent discontinuation. Discontinuation of postal facilities in vulnerable places can have a disproportionately negative effect on a community. Proactively engaging property owners, engaging and assessing community assets, and assembling a menu of complimentary services could mitigate facility discontinuation and unnecessary costs for both USPS and communities.
Such an approach also will yield new opportunities to evaluate and deploy a range of smart and connected technologies utilizing existing postal infrastructure as well as new funding and financing sources to address both place-based and postal priorities. Based upon the recommendations and findings of this report further interdisciplinary investigation is merited and a new strategy to broker postal and community interests should be developed.