While it is difficult to extrapolate from foreign experience to U.S. postal needs,
due in part to major differences in the mail make-up and use of postal codes, multi-line OCRs appear to be performing well in other countries. ELSAG has 20 two-line OCRs operating in French post offices with an apparently very low error rate (0.1 to 0.5 percent). Telefunken has two- or three-line OCRs operating in Norway, the Netherlands, and Britain. The British Post Office reports that its one Telefunken three-line OCR is undergoing a field trial to be completed by December 1984, and is handling United Kingdom mail at rates between 28,000 and 30,000 letters per hour. Productivity and error rates are not known.
Feasibility of Local and National Directories
[n order to read, code, and sort 5-digit ZIP mail to the 9-digit level, multi-line OCRs require a computerized address directory against which the address information can be compared to ascertain the correct 9-digit ZIP code, then apply the corresponding bar code, and finally sort the letter.
OTA has reviewed the current state-of-the-art in computerized directories to determine if such directories for postal purposes are technically and economically feasible.
Accordingly to USPS, about 40 percent of mail is local and 60 percent non-local. [f a multi-line OCR is to process local mail to the 9-digit level at the originating post office, a local directory is needed. If a multi-line OCR is to process all mail (local and non-local) to the 9-digit level at the originating post office, a national directory is needed.