POStPlan: Map, Charts, & More


May 14, 2012

On May 9, the Postal Service released POStPlan, its new plan for small rural post offices.  The plan will impact 13,000 post offices.  Over the coming months, the Postal Service will begin holding community meetings to discuss the options: replace the post office with a "village post office" (a postal counter in a private business), close the post office and switch to rural delivery, or keep the post office open at reduced hours — two, four, or six hours per day, depending on the office's revenues.  Full-time careeer postmasters will be replaced by part-time workers at these part-time offices.  Details about the plan are here.

You can see the official USPS list here, and there's a map on Save the Post Office, here.  

A much better version of the map and list can be found on Google Fusion Tables: List and Map.  Google makes it possible to sort, filter, analyze, chart, and map the list in many ways.  There are several options and features, so here's a guide to help you get started.

1. See and modify the map: Go to the POStPlan map here.  You may need to click-drag and zoom the map a bit.  

To change what the map shows, under “View,” select “Filter.”  You can apply filters that will allow you to select a particular state, ZIP code prefix, hours of operation, etc.  For example, you can filter for State = IA, click on “Apply,” and the map will show only the post offices in Iowa.  If you filter by state, remember to to use the state's two-letter abbreviation.  Here's the map for Iowa.  (Blue = 6 hours; yellow = 4; red = 2)  Click on a marker for more details.  

2. Modify the table: Under “Visualize,” select “Table,” then under “View,” select “Filter.”  As with the map, you can apply a filter to see a state list, a 3-digit zip code prefix, etc.  You can also add layers of filters by clicking on “Add Condition.”  (If you want to get back to the Map, you may need to clear your filters.)

3. Analyze the data: Under “Visualize,” select “Table,” then under “View,” select “Aggregate.”  This will allow you to process the data in various ways.  For example, where it says, “Show aggregate,” click on “sum” for both Current and Proposed Retail Hours, and for “Aggregated by” click on State.  Then click on apply.  This will generate a state-by-state list of the current and proposed hours of operation.  Copy the data to an Excel table, and you can produce a table like this (a complete table for this data set is here):

State
Number of
Impacted       Post offices
Current
Retail Hours
per Day
Proposed
Retail Hours
 per Day
Percent Reduction in Hours
AK
128
900
756
16%
AL
254
1,970
1,112
44%
AR
391
2,974
1,492
50%
AZ
50
392
232
41%
CA
265
2,090
1,228
41%
CO
185
1,404
808
42%
CT
60
480
298
38%
DE
11
88
52
41%

4.  Make a chart: Under “Visualize,” select “Table,” then under “View,” select “Aggregate.”  Under Aggregated by, select “Proposed Retail Hours.”  Under “Visualize,” select “Pie,” then for "entity" choose Proposed Retail Hours and for Value choose Count.  This will produce a pie chart showing the breakdown.  You can also filter for a particular state, etc.  For example, here's how the 317 post offices on the list in Nebraska would be affected:

5. Embed in your website: In most modes of visualization, there’s an option for getting the “embeddable” code, if you want to locate a map, table, or chart in your website.  You can create a map, for example, of just one state.  Be sure to zoom and center the map on the area that you want to appear on your website.

6. Map one office: When you’re in Table view, hover your mouse/cursor just to the left of the name of the post office.  Two icons should appear — select the one that looks like a globe.  A map should appear in a pop-up window.  Adjust the zoom, and you will see a marker indicating the general area of this post office.  (This map uses zip codes, not street addresses, so it’s just a general location.  There's a map, along with a list, of all the country's post offices marking actual locations, here.)

If you come up with any useful adaptations, let us know.  Just click on the contact link at the top.

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