US Postal Service

The U.S. Post Office is having a rough run of things. With expenses increasing at every corner, our nation's mail system is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Needless to say, the institution is currently looking into extra ways to rake in cash that doesn't involve hiking the price of stamps. Michael Ravnitzky, Counsel to the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, has come up with a pretty clever plan that could turn postal vehicles into high-tech havens capable of pulling down information on everything from weather and air pollution to road conditions and public safety.

The premise is simple: slap a cheap set of data recording equipment on the roof of each mail truck and then sell the collected data to interested parties. The trucks could be calibrated to warn of biological or radiological attacks to alert the defense department or simply provide a larger sample group for meteorological study. The post office could even lease space on its vehicles for whatever sort of data collection equipment government agencies or private entities could dream up, and Ravnitzky says that it could even be used to fill in blank spots in cell phone coverage. Of course, the likelihood of this coming to fruition seems pretty slim. After all, this is the federal government we're talking about...

[Source: The New York Times | Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]