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New 'smart' letterboxes to start one-year public trial at two blocks in Clementi

SINGAPORE — Residents at one housing block in Clementi will soon receive mail receipt notifications whenever mail has arrived in their letterboxes. They will also be able to check the exact number of mail items they have received.

New 'smart' letterboxes to start one-year public trial at two blocks in Clementi

PostPal is a new “smart letterbox” that SingPost is installing at Block 202, Clementi Ave 6 as part of a pilot for a year from Dec 18, 2020.

  • Singapore Post is trying out PostPal, a “smart letterbox”, at two blocks in Clementi
  • The one-year trial starts on Dec 18 at Block 202 Clementi Ave 6 
  • The smart letterbox system will alert residents whenever they receive mail 
  • Residents may collect their items by scanning a unique QR code at the letterbox

 

SINGAPORE — Residents at one housing block in Clementi will soon receive mail receipt notifications whenever mail has arrived in their letterboxes. They will also be able to check the exact number of mail items they have received.

These residents may then retrieve their mail by scanning a unique QR code dynamically generated by the Singapore Post (SingPost) mobile application and scan it at the letterbox.

These innovations are part of the services that come with PostPal, a new “smart letterbox” that SingPost unveiled on Thursday (Dec 3) and will try out at Block 202 Clementi Ave 6 for a year from Dec 18.

PostPal will also be installed at Block 205 some weeks later as part of the trial.

These blocks were chosen because they are representative of the average mail profile of public housing in Singapore, SingPost said.

From Dec 11, its employees will conduct an outreach programme in the neighbourhood for a week, to help residents learn how to retrieve their mail from the new letterboxes.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Vincent Phang, the head of postal services in Singapore at SingPost, said that the company hopes to roll out PostPal to a district in the northern part of Singapore in coming months.

He added that PostPal is most suitable for high-rise, dense urban housing, which makes up over 80 per cent of housing in Singapore, he said.

Another feature of PostPal is that the letterbox can be customised to suit the mail profile of particular housing blocks.

For example, if a block sees consistently high deliveries from e-commerce merchants, SingPost can reconfigure the letterbox there with larger modules to hold bigger packages. It could also do so for particular periods, such as during the year-end online sales peak season. 

This QR code verification process eliminates the need to manually unlock and lock letterboxes using a key that can be lost or duplicated, and residents may also use the SingPost app to authorise trusted individuals to collect mail from PostPal on their behalf.

Each PostPal is equipped with an auto-sorting machine capable of accurately arranging and storing mail for individual residences, which SingPost said “greatly minimises misdeliveries due to human error while significantly relieving the postman’s daily burden”.

Mr Phang was asked if PostPal will be integrated with the parcel locker network announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in July.

“It’s early days, so this is just one prototype and one trial in a couple of blocks here, but in time to come, we hope that this is something we can explore. So we are in talks with IMDA on how we could collaborate in this space and to cooperate to make sure that (the collection of) both letters and parcels can be a seamless experience for our customers,” he said. 

IMDA has said that 1,000 locker stations will be deployed across the island by the end of next year.

Mr Phang also said that postmen and other teams in SingPost’s processing and sortation function are in the process of improving their skills. 

One resident of Block 202, Mr Foo Ka Jong, 61, said that the smart letterboxes were the right way forward and that he can learn to get used to scanning a QR code to get his mail.

“It will be faster and at least we know how many letters we have inside,” Mr Foo, who is self-employed, said. He checks the letterbox once a week but often forgets to do so and by the time he does, his letterbox is full. Now, he will know when something has arrived and he can check it right away.

His son, Mr Foo Hong Ming, 27, is also looking forward to the new system because he would no longer have to worry about remembering to take along his keys to open the mailbox.

PostPal was co-developed by SingPost and robotics firm PBA Group (PBA Robotics). Pisces Technologies, a homegrown company specialising in systems automation, and a subsidiary of PBA Robotics, also worked closely with SingPost to develop and build the latest public trial prototype of PostPal.

Related topics

PostPal SingPost mail letterbox

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