IoDLT Article: USPS Revenue Assurance & Audit Using Symbol, ANT$, & Axon IoT


Hello NEM Community!

Bader from IoDLT here. It’s been a minute since we posted an article - so here is another one from us! This one covers how Symbol and IoDLT tech can help the United States Postal Service with improving their revenue assurance. It covers how a Symbol auditing service coupled with Axon IoT can be used to audit and verify packages, thereby creating a much more robust and reliable system.

Give it a read on our blog, or read it below!


USPS Revenue Assurance & Audit Using Symbol, ANT$, & Axon IoT


The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) lost $4.5 billion by the first quarter of 2020 – with more financial pain anticipated throughout the rest of the year. The substantial loss is despite higher package volumes, as people stay at home to help slow the spread of Covid-19. Package sales grew 7% to more than $5.8 billion on a volume increase of 0.8%. Sales growth also accelerated from 2% in the December 2019 quarter. Some of this $4.5 billion loss could be attributed to Covid-19 related challenges. With rising package sales as the new normal, the need to streamline audit and “Revenue Assurance” arises.

USPS implements “Revenue Assurance” measures to make sure package prepaid label purchases line up with packages’ weights and dimensions. However, from a personal experience, we were charged 500% more for a package through USPS Revenue Assurance measures! This was mostly due to erroneous measurements of our package’s dimensions and weight. We sent USPS an email almost a month ago disputing the 500% upcharge, and we have not heard anything back! So, it appears that the system is overwhelmed and transparency is lacking.

USPS needs to use blockchain technologies to increase the efficiency of their operations and reduce cost overall. The Symbol from NEM blockchain is scalable, affordable, and robust. It will be our DLT of choice for this implementation. IoDLT and Symbol can help USPS implement blockchain technology coupled with IoT sensors and Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras to capture package weight and dimensions. The correct weight and dimensions of the package can be recorded and verified at any point of the package’s journey (whether at USPS truck, Post Office, and/or distribution hubs). Using a distributed ledger, such as Symbol, an immutable record can be created and easily queried to autonomously verify the package’s integrity. This can easily be implemented using USPS’s existing tracking system, with a Symbol instance running alongside it for the purpose of Revenue Assurance, auditing, and robust dispute resolution.

What is ANT$ & Axon?


To accomplish this, IoDLT has already created two products that will greatly aid in this application.

ANT$ is IoDLT’s decentralized, permissioned data aggregation protocol that uses Symbol to incentivize data gathering. ANT$ can be used to define data schemas on Symbol to ensure valid data is recorded to the chain.

Using ANT$, a data schema that is stored directly on Symbol can be created.

Axon is IoDLT’s a multipurpose, blockchain-enabled edge computing device that communicates directly through Symbol. Axon utilizes the ANT$ protocol to communicate to Symbol, and record valid, verifiable information. This powerful combination of ANT$, Axon, and Symbol will enable this application to be easily achievable.

End-to-End Package Verification Using Axon


Using ANT$, an on-chain schema that reflects what should be associated with each package can be created (such as the tracking number and weight). This essentially defines how a package should look on Symbol.

An ANT$ schema representing how a package record would look is constructed and uploaded to Symbol.

Following the creation of the schema, an Axon-based device records the weight and dimensions using a multitude of sensors of packages before they are sent out. A laser scanner is attached to scan the tracking number on the package. We call this device the USPS Revenue Assurance Device (URAD). Along with a scale to weigh the package, the URAD also features an Augmented Reality (AR) camera to automatically take an unbiased and instantaneous measurement of the package in question.

Concept device – the package is weighed on the scale, with AR-enabled cameras taking dimensions and automatically uploading it to Symbol.

Axon uses ANT$ to upload this information in accordance to the on-chain data schema. To ensure the authenticity of each reading, each device is pre-approved on Symbol by USPS. A Symbol Namespace associated with an account represents USPS on Symbol, and assigns a certificate in the form of Symbol Metadata to the device.

The Axon Board ensures that it’s valid by checking to make sure it has an issued certificate signed by the USPS Symbol namespace.

Using this setup, a timestamped, immutable record of the package is now recorded on Symbol. Now in the event of a dispute, the immutable record on Symbol would show the weight, dimensions, tracking number of the package with timestamp. Since the device must be approved by USPS, one can ensure the device is authentic through checking the assigned metadata certificate.

The blockchain is immutable – meaning the record will never go away or be altered. This ensures the correct version of the truth will always prevail in a dispute.

Through the use of blockchain – dispute resolution is clear, simple, and mostly automated. Faulty weights and dimensions can now be verified against Symbol’s immutable record, and undeserved charges against the user’s account can be avoided entirely.

Conclusion


With increased online transactions and home delivery of packages becoming the new normal going forward, the need for audit and transparency has never been more important. With this blockchain-based solution in place, it will save both time and money for both the consumer and USPS. The use of Symbol, Axon, and ANT$ ensures this solution is automated, feasible, and affordable. Symbol’s ease of use, simple deployment, and built-in features enable IoDLT’s Axon and ANT$ for this application to be properly and quickly implemented.


Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them below, or email us at [email protected].

About IoDLT


Founded in 2018, IoDLT (Internet of Distributed Ledger Technology) utilizes two disruptive technologies – Internet of Things and blockchain – to provide seamless, secure, and scalable B2B solutions. IoDLT brings security to small and large businesses alike, without compromising user data privacy and user-to-business interactions. Their technology’s application spans a wide range of industries, namely healthcare, agriculture, supply chain, and energy metering.

Alongside providing business solutions, IoDLT envisions a future run by embedded devices. Securing those devices will become imperative to the operations of any business. IoDLT deploys proprietary and affordable IoT to blockchain protocols to secure the devices of the world

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Thank you @Dtbychris!! It’s much appreciated!!

We have a Japanese translation done by a community member @RadioRa26841511, which you can read here on NEMLog: https://nemlog.nem.social/blog/47462

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