USPS Study Eyes 'One Code Vision'

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The U.S. Postal Service begins a study this month designed to improve the agency's understanding of printing, barcode and mail preparation technology used by the mailing industry.

The study ties in with the postal service's announcement earlier this year that it would consider a "one code vision" in which one standardized code would link to a suite of services, including mail processing sortation, address change services, postage payments and certified mail services.

The USPS has said that this code, if achievable, would make each mail piece uniquely identifiable. It also said that such a code would reduce the amount of space needed on envelopes for USPS-required information on sorting, tracking and other services.

"We are trying to leverage barcoding at the postal service, and in order to do that we need to print more information than is currently contained in the barcodes," said Jeff Freeman, USPS manager, mail technology strategy. "There has been some initial talk about what that barcode format might look like, [so] we are doing a technology study to find out the capabilities of the mailing industry to print alternatives."

The USPS said it first will survey software providers, printers and barcoding equipment manufacturers to determine the capabilities of the equipment they sell today, "and whether it would be capable of printing alternative barcodes," Freeman said.

Then the USPS will survey the industry "to find out how many people have that technology today," he said, and to determine how readily they could move to an alternative barcode format and how much it would cost.

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