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Mailman or super man?
Cleaning up neighborhoods through the eyes of the mailmen.
Willem Wouters
Mail man at PostNL
Mail men spend a lot of time in various neighborhoods. They are asked to take pictures of for example garbage lying around on the street or destructed playgrounds. With this information coming in, the municipality wants to improve the (internal) processes of keeping the city in its best condition and handling complaints. They hope this increases the satisfaction of citizens concerning the way the municipality solves their reported problems.
How did you get involved in this project?

"Our manager asked us if we wanted to participate in a pilot project. Some colleagues are not interested in change, but I like to try new things. I received a folder and applied.

Every day is different, some streets are already very clean compared to others. I report a different amount of garbage every day. I find it important that the streets are clean. The things I find are for example shopping carts, shattered glass, garbage bags, bicycle wrecks and much more. Sometimes I even see buses unloading their garbage, that’s not even legal! We should really do something about it."

Can you share a concrete experience with us?

"Reactions from the neighborhood vary a lot. It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed that I walk around taking picture of the streets. The other day somebody walked up to me and said: “I have seen garbage there, can you report it please?”. Others are not as happy about it, they see it as a betrayal to the people who put their garbage there. I think it really benefits all people in the area when we can report and improve the streets, even though not everybody understands that yet."

Are there benefits for you?

"It is satisfying to be able to do something about the garbage that I see on the streets while delivering mail. It also gives us more to do, in times mail is only reducing. If I want to keep being a mail man, I will have to try new things. It’s fun as well, I talk to people a lot more. They notice that I am taking pictures and ask questions about it, it makes my job more interesting and personal."

What is missing in the project?

"I don’t receive a message when the garbage is cleaned up. I would really appreciate that, so I know what happened to the report I sent.
I like all the things that are happening, I would love to do more projects. It makes me happy to improve the neighborhoods together with the people, so I am looking forward to other projects."

Next step
We started in May 2017 with a small group of mailmen. We will soon scale up to six areas in Amsterdam, with in total approximately 180 – 220 mailmen in Amsterdam.
Ins & outs
The project page of livable and clean streets on the Amsterdam Smart City platform
More projects in the theme Citizens and Living
More innovations by PostNL that contribute to a smart and connected society
Partners involved in this project:
PostNL and City of Amsterdam
Supported by Nederland Schoon / CROW / Tauw /