The postman in the heart of the community

The postman in the heart of the community

For years the traditional mail volumes have been declining. The familiar sight of the postman on his daily route is therefore at risk as the work is becoming less. The Dutch national post, PostNL, started a number of pilots to determine if postmen can take on additional tasks while being on route. The first results look very promising.

“We have 20,000 employees who are on route daily. We believe that they can provide extra services to the community”, says Rogier Havelaar of PostNL. There are now three categories in which the employees provide support: helping out those in need, supporting public space optimisation, and assisting public institutions.

Supporting water utility companies

In one of the pilots, PostNL delivery personnel recorded the water meter consumption at households. Companies such as Waternet are enthusiastic about the support: of the 1,000 customers who –sometimes for years- didn’t respond to calls from Waternet, PostNL delivery personnel were able to reach 600 in just one week.

Surface measurements for road improvements

Another pilot is to conduct surface measurements on local roads and highways. This is normally a costly exercise done with specialised equipment which in practice meant that only major highways were examined. By equipping PostNL’s delivery vehicles with special software connected to the smartphones, delivery personnel are conducting road surveys on a multitude of local roads and highways. The data collected is used to make better road analysis, to identify where road improvements are necessary, and to contribute to the general road safety.

In the heart of the community

As postmen are in the same neighbourhood daily they can also play a key role in crime prevention and social inclusion. In certain areas delivery personnel are asked to check on elderly who still live on their own to see if everything is going well. In other areas they are on special alert for people who seem to be absent for a longer period. Delivery personnel don’t have to visit places they consider unsafe, or collect outstanding bills. “The postman should remain to be a friend of the community”; says Havelaar.