One Address

Text from the Bieler Tagblatt: A pilot project is underway at the BrainStore ideas factory in Biel: a check is being made as to whether the e-mail address could replace the conventional postal address. A pink test mailbox was mounted.

Does the one-line postal address have a chance?

Pilot project: BrainStore AG, Biel

At the BrainStore ideas factory in Biel, Germany, a pilot project is underway to find out whether the e-mail address could replace the conventional postal address. A pink test mailbox was mounted.

Hedwig Schaffer

There is something new under the sun: the letter sent by post with an e-mail address. If you want to put it to the test, write an existing e-mail address on a stamped envelope (as well as your own e-mail address as the sender on the back of the envelope) and throw the letter at Rüschlistrasse 31 into the pink test mailbox mounted there. BrainStore employees act as "post offices" (probably until the end of May, perhaps even longer). They inform the addressee by e-mail that a letter has arrived for him and ask him to mail his home address to the "post office". Once this is done, the "BrainStore-Pösteler" address the letter automatically, hand it over to a proper post office and save the delivery address on their homepage. This is so that all subsequent addressing can take place fully automatically.

Launched in April

This may sound a little complicated now. But Markus Mettler, Managing Director of BrainStore AG, is convinced that the innovative addressing of letters and parcels will benefit both postal customers and the postal service itself if the idea causes a sensation. Provided, of course, that those responsible for postal services and a large proportion of the population are sufficiently motivated to put the idea into practice quickly. "The idea with the e-mail address came up again and again in connection with various projects," explains Mettler: "And if something repeats itself all the time, we are pricked up. Because then there must be something behind it that you should pursue." That's why a corresponding pilot project was launched on April 23, 2001.

The trial got off to a good start: Every day there are three to ten letters in the pink letterbox - the only one of its kind in the world. BrainStore did not even have to advertise for this: According to Mettler, a "dry press release" was enough, as he says, and the whispering propaganda began to play. Word of this test run got around, especially among younger people: The young people would benefit from the new addressing option, as they would have between 50 and 100 e-mail addresses in their heads. But old people could also benefit from it: For example, the 80-year-old Abraham could - without owning a computer and without being connected to the Internet himself - get the e-mail address, and his mail would be forwarded directly to his private address in the "Sunnemätteli".

Conference in Interlaken

"Of course, we do not intend to function as a post office," says the managing director, clearing up any misunderstandings: "However, we will try to get those responsible for postal services enthusiastic about the idea: the feedback we have received so far from this side is positive in any case. The new idea has not yet matured in every detail. This is why BrainStore is holding a multinational conference in Interlaken on 30 and 31 May. There the different consequences of e-mail addressing will be discussed. This will be done together with postal service managers, hardware and software experts, logisticians, communication experts and e-commerce providers as well as representatives from the trade. At the same time, the implementation will be prepared.

In Interlaken, professionals and young people will sit at the same table: Workshops will be held. They will think about the consequences for logistics, software and philately and evaluate the technologies in question, says Markus Mettler. And as soon as the pilot test has been completed, BrainStore will take stock. His company has a vital interest in making the idea a reality. BrainStore, like himself as a private individual, would switch to e-mail addressing as quickly as possible.

Numerous advantages

The futuristic system has considerable advantages: Each participant has a unique and memorable address. Letters and parcels are quickly labelled. The user can personally change his address at any time in the password-protected database to be created for this purpose: Every change of address becomes effective immediately. Because the street and place of residence are not disclosed, data security is more efficient. And finally, shopping on the Internet is effortless: All you have to do is enter your e-mail address.

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