May 5, 2013 AT 12:00 am

Where Mail With Illegible Addresses Goes to Be Read

Adafruit 1456

Where Mail With Illegible Addresses Goes to Be Read @ NYTimes.com.

Ms. Stark is one of the Postal Service’s data conversion operators, a techie title for someone who deciphers unreadable addresses, and she is one of the last of a breed. In September, the post office will close one of its two remaining centers where workers try to read the scribble on envelopes and address labels that machines cannot. At one time, there were 55 plants around the country where addresses rejected by machines were guessed at by workers aided with special software to get the mail where it was intended.

But improved scanning technology now allows machines to “read” virtually all of the 160 billion pieces of mail that moved through the system last year. As machines have improved, workers have been let go, and after September, the facility here will be the post office’s only center for reading illegible mail.

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2 Comments

  1. This is an interesting read for me. I work for one of the companies that provides equipment to the USPS including mail and flats sorters and address OCR reading software. I haven’t been involved in any of that but I know some engineers who have been. It’s amazing to see that OCR technology has come far enough to read bad handwriting like mine.

    This is our website concerning the OCR technology we offer (note that I am not posting this as an advertisement because I doubt any of our Adafruit friends would actually purchase any of these services).

    Also as a disclaimer, I am an employee of this division of Siemens but I am not an official representative so I am only posting publicly available information.

  2. Whoops forgot to include the URL.

    http://www.mobility.siemens.com/mobility/global/en/logistics/postal-automation/reading-and-coding/pages/reading-and-coding.aspx

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