How the U.S. Postal Service Reads Illegibly Scribbled Addresses

In Salt Lake City, Utah in the U.S. there is a building in which 810 employees of the U.S. Postal Service sit in front of screens on which pop up images of mail and packages that optical character recognition (OCR) could not read. The employees, with computer assistance, try to figure out what was intended and respond within 90 seconds so that the mail can be immediately processed. In 2021, this Remote Encoding Center (REC), the last remaining, processed 1.2 billion scrawled images of addresses.

In 1997, there were 55 of these RECs keyboarding mail. OCR is getting very good.

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