On the map

The Postal Service recently tested the ability of USPS vehicles to collect geospatial data, which can be used for electronic navigation applications and other geospatial-based technologies.

During the test, the organization worked with Microsoft, which collects panoramic, three-dimensional imagery of city streets and other locations for Streetside View 360, the company’s mapping program for mobile devices and computers.

The program relied on vehicles equipped with special sensor systems, including rotating light detection and ranging data technology, to capture images in 3D.

Three postal vehicles were fitted with special equipment to capture 3D street imagery data during normal deliveries on 40 city routes in Mountain View, CA. To protect the privacy of individuals during the data-capture efforts, faces and license plates were blurred or erased.

“This test was part of the Postal Service’s commitment to use its unparalleled delivery vehicle network and existing infrastructure to help other organizations deliver quality services to their customers. The test also allowed us to explore new ways to generate revenue for USPS,” said Lauren Lee, digital business services director.

Crystal Chen, the officer-in-charge at the Mountain View Carrier Annex who helped oversee the test, also expressed “excitement at the opportunity to use the delivery fleet in such a new and innovative way.”

The Postal Service and Microsoft are reviewing the test results to evaluate the feasibility of a new geospatial data product that could continue to leverage the organization’s route network of more than 230,000 vehicles.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Lauding leaders

The Postal Service is inviting employees to submit nominations for the annual Engagement Leader of the Year Awards.

The awards honor leaders who are involved, enthusiastic and committed to improving their workplace environments.

Leaders — such as Postmasters, supervisors and managers — will be recognized at all levels of the organization, culminating with national honorees.

Nominees must be Executive and Administrative Schedule or Postal Career Executive Service who have employees who report to them.

Other criteria:

• At least half of the employees who report to each nominee must have participated in last year’s Postal Pulse survey.

• The nominee’s team must have a “grand mean” average of 4 or better in the survey. The grand mean refers to the average of the survey questions, which ask employees to assess their workplace engagement levels on a scale of 1 to 5.

• All nominees must have completed the Creating an Engaging Workplace training course before Sept. 30, 2020.

The deadline to submit nominations is Feb. 28. The Employee Engagement Blue and LiteBlue pages have the nomination form and additional information.

Don’t sleep

If you use an ACE computer, don’t turn it off.

Whether you work remotely or in a Postal Service office, USPS wants all ACE users to always keep their laptops and desktops powered on and connected to the organization’s network.

This allows the Postal Service to make overnight and weekend security and software updates, which helps protect the computer network and ensures computers run smoother with fewer glitches.

Here’s what ACE users must do:

• Stay connected to the USPS network when working remotely. This will ensure your virtual private network (VPN) is always connected, which means you’ll have to reconnect at least every day.

• Don’t shut down computers or put them into sleep mode, which cuts them off from the postal network and prevents them from receiving updates.

• Instead of shutting down an ACE computer, lock it by selecting the Control, Alt and Delete keys on the keyboard. The desktop screen will display several options. Choose “Lock.”

The CyberSafe at USPS Blue page has additional information on protecting the organization’s computer network.

Preventing injuries

February is Ergonomics Awareness Month, a time to learn how to prevent musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries in the workplace.

MSDs affect one or more parts of the musculoskeletal system, the soft tissue — muscles, tendons and ligaments — and bone structure of the body. Ergonomics evaluates how certain tasks are performed in the workplace to help employees avoid MSD injuries.

Work-related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Of the more than 30,000 recorded accidents involving Postal Service employees last year, almost 9,000 were MSD-related.

Fifty-four percent of MSD injuries were related to posture, repetitive motion risk factors and force. Most affected backs, shoulders and wrists. Some injuries can take weeks, months or years to develop.

However, injuries can sometimes be prevented by making minor changes.

For instance, tasks that require extended reach could be modified by moving objects closer or by using a reach pole.

Similarly, repetitive motions can be reduced by altering how workstations are situated.

The A to Z Safety Topics Blue page has more information on ergonomics, including safety stand-up talks.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites also have information.

Ox marks the spot

The Postal Service will release the Year of the Ox stamp Feb. 2.

The Forever stamp is the second in an updated Lunar New Year series, launched in 2020 to commemorate the traditional Asian holiday celebrated around the world with dragon boat races, fireworks and special food and drink.­­­

The image on the stamp is a stylized mask of the face of an ox covered with symbols referencing Asian culture. Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.

The Chinese zodiac comprises 12 animal signs, each said to influence those born under it and endowing them with certain traits. Every 12 years, one of the animals gets their day — or rather, year — in the sun. This lunar year (Feb. 12, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022) it’s the ox’s turn.

Like their animal totem, those born under the sign of the ox are said to be strong, reliable and hard-working.

The stamp, available at Post Offices and usps.com, will be dedicated during a virtual ceremony that can be viewed Feb. 2 at noon on the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.