Hats off to UPS!

Do you listen to podcasts?

I love them. I have a few favorites: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, The Tim Ferriss Show, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, The Kevin Rose Show, and All Songs Considered, to name just a few.  

There’s so much information, history, knowledge out there. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. It’s sort of that “the more you know, the more there is to know” syndrome. I like podcasts because they offer chunks of history or wisdom in easily digestible bites. The older I get, the more I want to learn, and that’s why I often turn to my wife, Brandy, for suggestions on what to listen to.

A voracious reader and consumer of stories, Brandy knows as much about what podcasts to listen to as anyone else I know. In fact, when she recommends a podcast, I take it to heart. She introduced me to In the Dark, Crimetown, Serial, and Embedded. (If you are in the market for a good mystery or some true crime, you might check them out.)  

Ted Talks Daily Podcast

When she recommended a TED Talks Daily Podcast, I knew I was interested. After all, I love TED Talks. Here at AM Transport, we all like TED talks, who doesn’t? From Brené Brown’s groundbreaking talks on shame and vulnerability to Simon Sinek’s talks on leadership to Amanda Palmer’s revolutionary talk about the power of asking for what you need, TED Talks inspire, motivate, and inform.

So because I’m such a fan of TED talks, I expected to like the podcast. I expected to learn something, to be informed and maybe even a little inspired. But I had no idea, a logistics company would figure so prominently in the story.

Let me explain, the episode I listened to is called, What Happened When We Tested Thousands of Abandoned Rape Kits in Detroit. It chronicles the discovery of 11,341 abandoned rape kits found in a warehouse in Detroit. When Kym Worthy, a prosecutor in Detroit, found out about these rape kits in 2009, she was appalled.

Some of the rape kits were almost 40 years old and had never been tested. For years, these rape kits had been languishing in black garbage bags and old oil drums in that abandoned warehouse. Worthy’s office had a lot of work to do.

In addition to the testing of these 11,341 kits, Worthy wanted to find a way to make sure this never happened again. She knew that there had to be a solution, a way to keep track of rape kits. So she did something amazing to me.


She called UPS.

In the TED Talk, Worthy explained how she thought about the hundreds of thousands of packages tracked from destination to delivery every day.  She figured they could use this technology to track rape kits. That’s why she called UPS.  

And you know what? She was right.

Within two weeks, UPS devised a plan that included all the stakeholders–the forensic nurses, the hospitals and medical facilities, the police officers, the prosecutors, the victim advocates, and the lab personnel. They studied the “life of a rape kit” from collection, to the lab, and back to the police department.

They created an online, web-based portal accessible to all the above stakeholders. This means they could see the location and status of any rape kit at any time.  

The City of Detroit and UPS launched a pilot program in January of 2015 that ran until May of 2016, and during that time, they didn’t lose a single rape kit! Wow.


The story is amazing for a couple of big reasons.

The determination of Kym Worthy and her office to process the rape kits in the pursuit of justice is an example of committed folks doing what’s right. It’s a story about hope and perseverance. It’s the kind of story we need these days.

But from a logistics point of view, Worthy’s reaching out to UPS is extraordinary. It’s about innovation and thinking outside the box. A logistics company used its industry smarts and revolutionized the way rape kits are processed and tracked–this blows me away! 

About working with UPS, Worthy said, “I loved working with UPS. I loved their innovation, I love how fast they worked, I loved their unorthodox approach to ideas to solve an everyday, common problem, whose solution should be simple.”

This story makes me proud to be part of the logistics industry.

I’m determined to remember this story and how one transportation company, UPS, used their logistics savvy to solve the problem of rape kit tracking in Detroit, Michigan.

Here at AM Transport, we tip our hats to UPS and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for their forward-thinking and innovative use of logistics technology.  

Good News in Logistics is a new series highlighting creative and innovative logistics companies doing good work! If you have a story you think fits the profile, please email Bridgett Jensen at bridgett@amtsquirrelworks.com.