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Smartphone plan could save posties

As mail deliveries fall, La Poste looks at creating a new digital future for staff as a vital daily link for households

LA POSTE is looking at turning its 90,000 facteurs posties into smartphone-equipped insurance assessors to keep them in jobs.

With mail deliveries tumbling 6% a year on average, the firm hopes that its staff were perceived as trustworthy enough to carry out insurance assessments, as the company branches into new sectors.

A pilot project, Digishoot, has been launched in Seine-et-Marne department, west of Paris, where postmen and women will take pictures while on their rounds, snapping accident-damaged vehicles and water-damaged houses amongst others, while also collecting the claimants’ insurance forms.

So far, several insurance companies have expressed an interest in the plan which would allow claims to be settled quicker, as claimants would not have to wait for an assessor to turn up and would free assessors for bigger jobs. Postal staff would have the smartphones to record any damage on equipment with time and date-stamps and geolocalisation features to ensure accuracy.

The move is part of a giant project at La Poste which, with 267,000 employees, is France’s fourth-biggest employer. Falling postal deliveries mean less demand for delivery staff but the head of delivery services at La Poste, Nicolas Routier, said that posties were ideal for the plan as people already trusted them.

Smartphones are already used by postal staff to get digital signatures for registered mail, to organise rounds and to organise foreign deliveries. All posties are to be given them by 2015 and staff have been asked to come up with other digital services that they could introduce.

These could include administrative tasks such as photographing vital documents, locating potholes and other local damage, offering tele-assistance for old people and even regular visits, as posties were the only group who had almost daily contact with households.

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