Thursday, September 5, 2013

An open suggestion to Canada Post.


It's now 2013.  We have smartphones, email, computers, tablets and all manner of IM and other communications needs that means we can reach (and be reached) 24/7.  As part of the globalization process, we are now working longer hours to account for timezones and other constraints that you have to follow in order to get stuff done.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have government departments.  In an age where your banks are using 2048 bit security so you can message your bank and you can bank 24/7, and we trust our passports to internet connected scanners at the airports that we can fly out of day and night 7 days a week, I get infuriated at the ball-and-chain attitude of the same people that are supposed to be helping the public to succeed.

Let's imagine I want to deal with a tax question.  I get home at 6PM and the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is shut.  I wake at 6AM and get ready to leave for work, but I can't phone the CRA still as they're still shut.  I can't call them on weekends, as they're shut.  So I think I'll just send them an email.  I should be able to write it at night and they can read it when they saunter into the office the next day. 

I can't do that…  Their excuse is "Email is not secure".

At this point I want to beat my head against the wall…. and here's why:
Canada Post has a secure inbox system used for things like payroll slips, receiving electronic bills, etc.  It's like a bank's email system for their customers, and it's called ePost.  It's also been looking for a reason to be relevant for the longest time (though it misses some great opportunities - like the NSA scandal didn't prompt any advertising of this being a valuable alternative that isn't snooped on).  It's available, 24/7.  Canada Post is a government organization.

Most importantly, if government is unable to drag itself out of the 1990s to keep up with the public, this is an easy springboard that can go a long way to getting them to where the banks got to about 10 years ago.

Conclusion:
Government should be accessible - not inaccessible.  It needs to dump it's legacy thinking and legacy attitudes and it should look at utilizing the tools it already has at it's disposal - after all, this is not a budgeting or technical problem as the service exists already for free. 

I finish with a simple suggestion to Canada Post:  Please go and introduce yourselves to the other government departments and put an end to their "internet prevention desk" policies.