Postal Data Hackathon 2023

June 23
 – June 24
Bern, Switzerland

Postal Data Hackathon 2023: unlocking the value of postal data 

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Fostering innovation is a key element of the Abidjan Postal Strategy and Business Plan for 2021–2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for innovation within the postal sector. While postal operators manage an enormous amount of data, the value of this data still remains mostly untapped to generate innovative solutions. Collaboration will be critical to unlocking this potential.

In order to bring to life partnerships between postal operators, technology companies, academia and other experts to address challenges and co-create solutions though the wealth of postal data, the UPU is hosting a Postal Data Hackathon in Berne, Switzerland, on 23 and 24 June.

For the first time ever, the UPU will make available data covering the movement of mail, parcels and express items (excluding any personal details), as well as other related data. This will provide a unique opportunity to analyze movements of goods around the world through postal networks, and combine this information with other relevant trade or transport data in order to explore big questions, challenges and innovations leading to a sustainable, green and data-driven future for all.

The Postal Data Hackathon 2023 strives to:

  • Inspire and enable postal operators to seize the value of their data;
  • Foster the development of data-based solutions and insights to enhance the efficiency of the international postal network;
  • Encourage a spirit of data-driven innovation in the postal sector;
  • Facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration to advance data-enabled innovation; and
  • Advance work on UN Sustainable Development Goals 9, 12, 13 and 17.


The Postal Data Hackathon is being organized by the UPU with the support of La Poste Group (France), UPU Consultative Committee member Eurora, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as well as the sponsorship of the United States Postal Service (USPS). It is facilitated by – a non-profit association strengthening transparency, participation and innovation – with contributions from data partners, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Statistics Division.

If you are interested in becoming a partner, please reach out to us at [email protected]


We want to bring people together who can actively tackle challenges.

There is a common misconception that hackathons are only for hackers, for “techies”, developers, or people with extensive technical expertise.

While such profiles are important to tackle challenges and build solutions quickly, we need more than that: we need people who bring domain knowledge, challenges, a problem-solving attitude and a willingness to learn. Some solutions will not only require technology, but perhaps also new processes, training and new policy recommendations. We are looking for all sorts of expertise to provide relevant, practical solutions.

Having relevant stakeholders – both users and providers – will help us tackle a variety of challenges. A good toolbox, a diverse team and a hard deadline are an excellent recipe for innovation.

Interested parties can participate in the Postal Data Hackathon in three ways: as a challenge owner, a hacker, and/or a mentor.


Formulate and share challenges.
Contribute to solving one or more challenges.

Share their expertise and support multiple teams.

Pitch their challenges during the hackathon’s launch.
May have technical expertise (e.g. API, Data Science), but this is not a prerequisite.

Collaborate with the project teams who tackle the challenge.

How it works

Before the Postal Data Hackathon (April–May 2023)

  1. The UPU invites the public to submit their postal challenges by 12 May by completing this form.
  2. The UPU invites hackers to register here by 12 May.
  3. Information sessions will be held on 18 and 27 April (register to join through the links on top of this page).
  4. The UPU, its organizing team and partners will evaluate all received challenges, finalize a shortlist of “most valuable challenges” and make enhancements, where necessary. The results of this evaluation will be communicated in mid-May.
  5. The organizing team will select and instruct a group of “mentors” to assist the hackers.
  6. The UPU will publish the overview of challenges and hackathon programme in late May.

During the Postal Data Hackathon (23–24 June 2023)

When attending the Postal Data Hackathon, each participant will be able to select a challenge to work on. This information, together with additional details about their particular skills and experience, will help the organizing team assemble project groups in a way that benefits all participants.

The UPU will publish the definitive programme shortly, but the hackathon will proceed as follows:

Day 1 – 23 June
Day 2 – 24 June

  • Opening remarks
  • Presentation of challenges
  • Team building
  • Hacking
  • Check-out
  • Coffee
  • Hacking
  • Presentation of projects
  • End
  • Drinks reception

 After the Postal Data Hackathon (July–September 2023)

  1. Communicate the results.
  2. Bring visibility and additional support to the hackathon’s top projects.
  3. The UPU and its organizing team will gather inputs from the hackathon to determine what was “liked, lacked, learned” in order to improve the next hackathon.


We will work on real problems and ideas. Challenges stand at the core of a hackathon – they are the sparks that ignite projects.

We hope to solicit challenges from experts from universities, international organizations, governments, regulators, postal companies, and UPU-recognized associations and private sector stakeholders.

Challenges can take different forms and put a range of deliverables in focus. However, good challenges should cover the following elements:

  • Pains: Why is the challenge… a challenge? Who does it challenge? In which situation?
  • Impact: What impact would addressing this challenge have on users?   What would be different if the challenge was addressed, or what would happen if the challenge was not addressed?
  • Reasonable scope: Package small challenges that can be translated into a manageable set of actions.
  • Context: In which environment is this challenge being addressed? Who are the stakeholders? What are the restrictions?
  • History: Which solutions have already been tested?

…and of course, leave room for hackers to be creative! Formulate open, tricky challenges rather than clearly-defined problems that could easily and already be commissioned to a programming company. The participants choose their own path around the challenges – trust the process!

Types of challenges:

Example areas


– Studying the correlation between socio-economic development and cross-border e-commerce

– E-waste: measuring electronic equipment flows

– Tackle free-rider issues

– Where should e-waste services be established?

Trade flows
– Analyze the time items spend in customs in each country
– Tax revenue collection: estimate the amount of tax revenue per country from postal items

– Predicting delivery time
– Predicting consumers’ demand for cross-border

Support for hackers

To encourage participation of developing countries and subject to availability of funds, fellowships may be granted. Participants from developing countries may wish to apply for a fellowship offered to cover the basic travel and accommodation expenses of participation.

Gender balance, inclusion and diversity are fundamental guiding principles of the selection process.

Priority will be given to applicants from the least developed countries and small island developing states.

Please contact us for more information.


If you have any questions, please reach out to: [email protected]