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Collection Boxes

This is documentation of my efforts to figure out what the hell is going on with USPS collection boxes. The theory and hope here is that, if a collection box is removed, that removal will eventually be reflected in the data provided by USPS.

Please please please, if you have the skills and desire to make something good out of what's posted here, do so! Map it out, analyze it, etc. etc.

FOIA Dataset

I made a request to USPS in August 2019 for a list of all collection boxes and post offices. I used that data to populate my website MailboxLocate. They kindly responded with two spreadsheets containing both those lists.

That response is available to download here: foia_2019-09-27.zip

Scraped Dataset

I'm running a regular scrape of the USPS PO Locator. This scrape produces a zip file containing approximately 32,000 JSON documents. If you want to use the JSON files directly, note that a collection box may appear in multiple files. You need to de-dup the collection boxes using the locationID.

I hacked up a script parse_all_collection_boxes.rb which converts the mess of JSON files into a CSV file. For consistency, the CSV file uses the same column headers as the coll report.xlsx file from the FOIA data.

date json csv
2020-08-15 collection_boxes_2020-08-15.zip collection_boxes_2020-08-15.csv
2020-08-17 collection_boxes_2020-08-17.zip collection_boxes_2020-08-17.csv
2020-08-19 collection_boxes_2020-08-19.zip collection_boxes_2020-08-19.csv

2019 to 2020 Added and Removed

I hacked up a script diff.rb to compare the collection boxes in the FOIA dataset vs the scraped one. See the script for details regarding the algorithm. You can download the results here:

removed_2019_to_2020.csv collection boxes that appear in the FOIA dataset but not the 8/15/2020 scraped dataset

added_2019_to_2020.csv collection boxes that appear in the 8/15/2020 scraped dataset but not the FOIA dataset

Below is an analysis showing the difference in # of collection boxes between the FOIA and 8/15/2020 scraped data. There is a large drop in the number of reported boxes in DC. This is because many of the boxes in DC are not currently listed in the USPS PO Locator tool (maybe due to a software error with that tool?)

state 2019 count 2020 count change change pct
DC 792 115 -677 -85%
AK 424 395 -29 -7%
OR 2618 2445 -173 -7%
NE 2131 2063 -68 -3%
MT 1447 1404 -43 -3%
CA 16199 15729 -470 -3%
ND 932 905 -27 -3%
WA 3630 3531 -99 -3%
RI 991 967 -24 -2%
UT 1128 1104 -24 -2%
MA 7815 7649 -166 -2%
MD 5092 4992 -100 -2%
VA 4966 4870 -96 -2%
NM 1480 1453 -27 -2%
GA 3763 3695 -68 -2%
OH 8883 8737 -146 -2%
NH 1584 1558 -26 -2%
KY 3350 3296 -54 -2%
MN 4488 4417 -71 -2%
AZ 2590 2553 -37 -1%
NJ 6344 6254 -90 -1%
VI 71 70 -1 -1%
WI 4306 4249 -57 -1%
TX 9863 9745 -118 -1%
FL 6104 6031 -73 -1%
NV 1020 1008 -12 -1%
IN 4492 4445 -47 -1%
HI 615 609 -6 -1%
IL 10869 10769 -100 -1%
KS 2483 2461 -22 -1%
WY 524 520 -4 -1%
PR 850 844 -6 -1%
VT 1095 1089 -6 -1%
NY 18273 18173 -100 -1%
AR 2824 2810 -14 0%
TN 2721 2709 -12 0%
IA 3667 3652 -15 0%
PA 13378 13324 -54 0%
ME 2026 2018 -8 0%
MI 6511 6487 -24 0%
LA 2282 2274 -8 0%
OK 2607 2598 -9 0%
WV 2630 2621 -9 0%
CO 3223 3212 -11 0%
AL 2937 2927 -10 0%
NC 4873 4857 -16 0%
MS 1766 1761 -5 0%
ID 1093 1090 -3 0%
MO 4927 4918 -9 0%
CT 2847 2844 -3 0%
DE 618 618 0 0%
SD 964 964 0 0%
SC 2286 2290 4 0%

What's next?

I set up a scheduled job to regularly scrape the collection box data. I will update this document as more files become available.

External Links

LICENSE

I don't own any of this data. So, I have no right to put restrictions on their use. I also have no desire to put restrictions on their use. Have fun!

As for the source code and this documentation: This project is licensed under the terms of the MIT license.

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