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GPS/GIS to locate mail addresses in Saudi Arabia

Four consortia of Saudi companies are to invest over SR1 billion in a state-of-the-art postal delivery system under a phased program covering all parts of the Kingdom. Usamah M.S. Altaf, vice president of Saudi Post, said the new service known as Wasel, would be a high-tech delivery system. It will rely on the integration of GIS, GPS and satellite imagery to locate houses and commercial addresses.

Post boxes will be installed in residential areas to enable registered members to post their mail. Altaf conceded that it would be a challenge to expedite postal delivery. “But with this high technology we hope to achieve our goal,” he said.

A core feature of the system is the use of smart chip embedded in the mailbox fixed to the entrance of the house or the apartment that alerts the postman when he is in the vicinity of an addressee. Altaf said that a fleet of vehicles equipped with the new technology will be used.

The system guides the driver to the right destination. There is also a track and trace system on the Saudi Post’s website that lets a registered user know the whereabouts of his mail.

A beginning has been made with the mobilization of a workforce in Riyadh. The plan calls for a gradual increase to 2,000 employees when the postal service covers the entire Kingdom in two years.

Altaf said the kingdom will be divided into eight postal regions, with each region further subdivided into squares ranging from 1km x 1km (as in cities) to 4km x 4km (in remote locations), depending on the density of the population.

Digital codes have been assigned to different cities, starting with 1 for Riyadh, 2 for the Western Province, 3 for the Eastern Province, 4 for Madinah. Each zone has a unique number, while other digits from 0 to 5 indicate the axis in each zone comprising the digital map of the Kingdom.

Altaf said 2,536 mail boxes will be placed in residential, commercial and industrial areas allowing post to be deposited without the need to visit a post office. He said mail boxes would also be available at the post offices and private postal agencies.

These boxes are made available for individuals, government departments, companies and establishments after a payment of SR300 once every three years. There are 408,751 P.O. boxes kingdom-wide in addition to 104,750 boxes at the private postal agencies.

This service comes within the framework of Saudi Postal Corporation’s efforts to diversify its public services and save its customers efforts and money. “This kind of mail can be easily handled without any postal clearance. Commercial organizations wishing to mail publicity material could save time, money and effort as the mail is stamped as “Postpaid.”

Altaf said companies and establishments could send large quantities of printed material to customers promoting their products and services.