Thursday, January 24, 2013

Has The Pony Left The Station? Is The USPS Relevant Today?

I have always thought that the USPS has a world-class brand, is visible in our everyday world (on trucks, post boxes, buildings, etc.) and it has limited itself to the world of physical mailing or using the web to print stamps.

After reading Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office? I think even more so, USPS is a bridge from person to person, town to town, nation to nation.

Not sure why the USPS hasn’t looked at the idea of re-directing their thinking and what they truly mean to:
  1. Finding a way to bring us virus free, secured email that we would be willing to pay a bit to only get the email we want, the way we want and virus free. Be a gateway for cleaning and clearing.
  2. Build a kid friendly, family focused web platform that is secured and that only businesses, and other organizations, allowed on it are pg-13 and free of the wrong things.
  3. Find a way to bridge the physical world of marketing and the virtual. Things like being able to say catalogs we want sent to our homes and which ones we don’t (think of the impact on print production costs and targeting only those that want hard copy).
  4. Even the idea of being a place that non-profits can manage who gets what solicitations in the mail and other, if they donate, can turn that cost and annoyance off.
  5. Even the creation of a virtual Postal Money Order – or instead a card – that allows to get up to $1,000 stored value card to send to whomever like a Postal Money Order.
  6. What about being the gateway for US citizens to the stuff we need from the government – make it easy to get your Tax Forms sent to you, or you need to get a form filled out and sent to the VA – why not via a USPS phone app that lets you do it securely, electronically and gives you a tracking number and reference of proof sent.
  7. Confirmation of important documents emailed? Or even a service allowing for the sending of larger sized electronic documents.
  8. Could they be like Constant Contact or other email communications providers?

What the USPS has meant in times past, the delivery of messages from one person to another, or from a business to many either clients or prospects. It has connected loved ones with those in service on the war front to getting word that you have been accepted to college of your choice. The thoughts go on and on of what could be.

In the world of electronic communications there is still a need to bring some level of standards, some level of security in delivery, some level control and management. Might the USPS have a place in that?
USPS could be so much more in our daily lives as people and businesses, but it requires looking at the core values and what it could be vs. what it is today. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Things We Can Do Right Now To Protect Kids @ School

So, while we wait for the political process to take place on the gun front (whatever the out come), lets do a few simple things right away to help improve some level of security and protection in schools:

1. Connect Teachers & Class Rooms To Instant Help: Get in every class room and give to every teacher in the class room the same type of technology we have for seniors, the Life Alert type of technology (the teacher gets an emergency button to wear and the rooms have the sound listening technology so if someone calls for help the police/fire/medics can listen in and ask "do you need help.." or something like this. Maybe the PTA's at the schools could raise the funds and a company could get them in ASAP. That way no teacher is ever alone in a class room OR anywhere in the building - one push of a button and help is on the way. We are always amazed how the system at my parents in-law home works instantly when they push the button and no matter where they are in the house they can hear someone asking do they need help and at the same time the person on the system by the provider can hear the parents no matter where they are.

If this technology can help keep Grandma and Grandpa safe and connected - what about schools?

2. Give The Teacher A Simple Way To Slow Bad People Down: Just like many class rooms have fire extinguishers, maybe we have for every teacher and class room pepper spray - the bear type - can put someone out of commission at 30 feet: 

This would be some level of self defense at the hands of teachers and admins at schools ASAP. Local law enforcement could give training - just like local fire protection does on the extinguishers? 

3. Give A Simple Connection To The OutSide World: Get all people working at schools to have panic alarm apps on their phones: While not the total answer - it can be part of the whole system of protection. 

4. Narrow Access/ Make It Harder To Get In: Better control and access to the schools - make it harder going in. Add in double door entries and wireless keys for teachers and staff - but all others can not walk right in, they get caught between two locked door ways. 

Just like the barrier between the waiting room and the examining rooms we need barriers between anyone off the street and the school hall ways. Its not 1940's/1950's America anymore so what is the design of schools still back in that time. Why is it harder to get access to a doctors office (and more secure) than many schools? 

5. Make It Harder To Get To The Building: Secure the grounds around schools. Better fencing, gates, cameras and ground security. The same protection that any Gov. Bld. gets so should our schools (drive around Northern VA and you can tell what buildings have gov work going on by the fence, barbed wire and security cams. If we are willing to protect our Gov buildings and people with tons of security and access control - why not our centers with our kids and our futures at stake?

If we are spending billions as a nation to put a fence across the borders of the US, why not some improved level of security around schools?

6. School Watch Program - With the school shootings over the past ten years there seems to have been a missed pre-attack chance to hear about the mental state and issues around the attackers (as peers in the schools or as people living in the communities). We have neighborhood watch models and groups - why not a School Watch approach, that allows people to share information, maybe in such away they don't feel at risk of being picked on for coming forward (in schools and communities) - create an early warning system to help?

We need ways to find out about those people that want to do harm or who are planning on doing harm at schools sooner?

I know as a parent, if a bond measure to fund increased protection at schools I would put vote yes (short and long term). At the same time we need to tap into existing technologies, get existing groups like the PTA and do something that matters today.