USPS Office of Inspector General – Value of the Zip CodeBy
The OIG has just issued its study of the economic value of the Zip Code. The only other existing analysis of this subject that we know of was done in Denmark some years ago, and given the task assigned the Danish group, the “value” they were able to track related to an informed guess as to the financial benefit to first tier users of the licensees of the address database – mainly income received through exploitation of the data, or costs avoided through its use. And that was an impressive number.
This study casts a wider and more ambitious net to ask for values to four constituencies: USPS, Firms that enhance mail related products, Firms that enhance non-mail related products, and Consumers,Governments and Non-Profits. The OIG calculates the value of the Zip Code system to both the USPS and the wider economy to be some $93.1 billion over a ten year period. And in many respects, the study notes that this is probably an under-calculation.
In closing, the Office of Inspector General makes a very contemporary, and pertinent point: “The ZIP Code is also an example of the phenomena of localized innovations implemented as an open system and then adopted by a wider network. The Postal Service assists the communication growth of the country through many channels. The scale and size of the Post Service enhances the potential for great innovative successes like the ZIP Code to grow as nearly everyone in the country is affected. The Postal Service would best learn from the ZIP Code story to initiate innovative programs and expand already successful ones.”
And, by the way, the study notes the work of GADA member GoCode of Ireland and its work in providing addressing in slums in India and the consequential improvements in economic and civil well-being for the residents.