Singapore

Trial of smart letterboxes to start at Clementi HDB blocks

Residents of these blocks will collect their mail from central unit after being notified on their mobile phones

Residents of Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 will, in a fortnight's time, be notified on their mobile phones when their mail has arrived.

They will also collect their mail from a central vending machine-style unit at the foot of their block instead of their traditional letterboxes.

These Housing Board (HDB) dwellers will be the first in Singapore to take part in a year-long trial of a smart letterbox system that SingPost envisions will replace traditional units.

Called PostPal, each machine will store mail for an entire housing block, with items auto-sorted into storage slots.

Instead of using a key to unlock their designated letterbox, residents will scan a QR code generated by the SingPost app to retrieve their items from the machine.

Through the app, residents will be notified of mail delivery and the number of items awaiting collection. They can also use the app to authorise others to collect the mail on their behalf.

PostPal's features will reduce delivery mistakes as well as the postmen's workload, SingPost said yesterday when announcing the public trial.

Instead of having to sort and slot mail into individual letterboxes, postmen can load items into the machine to be sorted automatically.

Mail addressed to homes involved in the trial will be affixed with a data matrix code - similar to a QR code - that will be scanned by PostPal for sorting and notification.

The trial will start with two HDB blocks in Clementi: Residents of Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 will begin using the system on Dec 18, while those in Block 205 will follow in the weeks ahead.

PostPal is a newer iteration of the smart letterbox prototype unveiled by SingPost last year. It was developed in collaboration with PBA Group, a robotics and automation firm headquartered in Singapore.

The storage modules in PostPal units can be customised to the mail profile of each individual block, SingPost said.

Mr Vincent Phang, SingPost's Singapore head and chief executive of postal services, told the media at PostPal's unveiling yesterday that the system will provide added security as only postmen will have access to the machine's mail deposit, and each machine will have a closed-circuit television camera.

When asked about accessibility for the less tech-savvy, he said those without smartphones can use a one-time password sent by SMS to retrieve their mail.

"We do acknowledge that there may be some apprehension in some people at the start, but we will work through those issues."

The PostPal trial will be progressively rolled out to more precincts, depending on the performance of the units in Clementi and approval from the authorities, SingPost said.

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