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Chapter 2
postal operations

4. Enterprise Data Warehouse

The Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is a major information asset of the Postal Service. Initiated as a repository for key retail information and transactions, EDW is now the central source of information on retail, financial, and operational performance.

During the past year EDW has grown from use by a few hundred employees generating approximately 600 reports per week to use by some 3,000 employees who are now creating more than 40,000 reports per week. To manage this growing data environment, to assure the business value of EDW initiatives, and to guarantee the consistency and quality of its data, an EDW governance infrastructure was created in 2004. Recent improvements in the efficiency of frequently executed reports, as well as a planned upgrade to the EDW infrastructure, will enable IT to meet the challenge of EDW's rapid growth and institutionalization.

New data sources continue to be added to EDW, focusing particularly on systems that manage the movement of mail. In 2004 Delivery Confirmation data was added and plans are underway to add other sources, such as International Mail.

M. Intelligent Mail

In 2003 the Intelligent Mail and Address Quality (IMAQ) organization was established to focus efforts in moving the enterprise toward an Intelligent Mail system. This system envisions collecting information about mail that will allow the Postal Service to leverage the information to influence mail processing and delivery and allow customers to leverage the information to better serve their business needs.

The Intelligent Mail Vision is:

The Postal Service and its customers capitalize on the value of information about mail by placing an information rich code on mail, aggregates of mail, and business forms, enabling end-to-end visibility into the mailstream.

Three key strategies are: to uniquely identify mail and its aggregates (i.e., OneCode Vision for mail in trays or other containers), develop and deploy an enabling infrastructure, and enhance address quality.

1. OneCode Vision

Under the OneCode Vision strategy mailpieces and larger unit loads of mail will be uniquely identified with a code that enables end-to-end process tracking and full visibility.

The OneCode Vision strategy will create one distribution code per mail type and aggregate that will also encompass or point to all relevant services — such as address change requests and Delivery Confirmation service.

To achieve the OneCode Vision strategy the Postal Service, through standardization and consolidation, is minimizing the number of codes. A Coding Standardization Board was established in 2003 to provide a logical framework for coding determination and assignment and to ensure that all coding decisions satisfy business needs. During 2004 the Board met regularly to consider new codes that were proposed, including those described below.

a. Unique Identification for Letters and Flats

The Postal Service currently uses a combination of the Postal Numeric Encoding Technique (POSTNET) sorting code and the Postal Alpha Numeric Encoding Technique (PLANET) code to identify pieces for Confirm service. The maximum length of a PLANET barcode is 13 digits, which severely limits the mailer's ability to identify each mailpiece. A draft 4-state barcode specification was developed in 2004 to provide a standard framework for encoding information for multiple services and routing. It has about 2.5 times the information carrying capacity of a PLANET barcode. The specifications, along with software and font to encode the 4-state barcode, have been made available to mailers for testing and evaluation and to solicit input about transition issues mailers would face.

Development of the capability to decode the 4-state barcode on mail processing equipment is discussed in section II.M.2.

b. Unique Identification for Parcels and Bundles

In January 2004 the Postal Service implemented the Code 128 standard barcode for Delivery Confirmation service and parcel sorting codes. This code supports concatenating (merging) the parcel identification code with the sorting code in a single barcode.

The IMAQ organization is working to employ a standardized shipping label (SSL) for parcel labels on Postal Service platforms such as Click-N-Ship, the Automated Postal Center (APC), POS ONE, and integrated retail terminals (IRTs). The SSL is currently being produced on Click-N-Ship and the APC. During the next year IMAQ plans to begin working with Package Services, Address Management, and external labeling software vendors to encourage the mailing industry to adopt the SSL format.