Shut the Junk Up

Inspiration

Every year, USPS sends advertisements to many users. They have access to everyone’s addresses, which makes for a great way for marketing agencies to advertise their products. A study found that more than 90% of the people do not follow up on these junk mails, and they cannot unsubscribe to the advertisement sent to their home.

What it does

Our proposed solution will allow users to sign up for digital delivery of such mails. USPS will send emails of scanned ads and/or personal mail to those who subscribe to our service instead of sending the physical mail. This will benefit everyone involved. For one, this is an environmentally friendly solution. The paper is not being sent out if the user chooses email, and the paper can be sent for recycling. Secondly, USPS will also benefit as they won't have to deal with the extra overhead of handling these items and from any subscription fee associated with the service. Finally, the community will also be less frustrated with spam mail.

How we built it

We used the USPS website template to design a mock-up of user interfaces for both USPS employees and USPS service subscribers. For implementing the user opt-in feature, we used a Flask backend service. We also implemented an email agent in Python to enable USPS to send mass emails along with the incoming mail. The users have the freedom to choose the delivery type from every sender, physical delivery, digital delivery, or ask every time.

Challenges we ran into

USPS heavily relies on revenue generated by advertising mail, so a major challenge was to think of a solution which would benefit USPS, users, and the environment. Technologically, we faced some troubles with setting up the email server and integrating it with the front end.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of the solution, which can augment the existing Informed Delivery System. We are also proud of our work on the project which we managed to complete in a very limited time.

What we learned

We learned a lot from the awesome people from USPS, they were very helpful and very considerate while answering the questions we had regarding the logistics, technologies, and policies that USPS uses.

What's next for Shut the Junk Up

The next step for this project is to utilize the fact that every piece going through USPS gets scanned. One such augmentation would be identifying a particular item in the mail like a brochure. The new system will search for an existing scanned copy of the brochure in the database. If found, a subscribed user can immediately get the brochure's copy digitally, and the actual copy can be discarded for recycling.

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