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Smart letterboxes to be trialled at two Clementi Housing Board blocks

SINGAPORE – Residents of Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 will soon be able to receive notification on their mobile phones when mail has arrived, negating the need to periodically check their letterbox.

For the next year in fact, they will not need to check the letterbox at all, as mail will instead be collected from a central vending machine-style unit at the foot of the block.

They will be the first in Singapore to try out a smart letterbox system that SingPost envisions may one day 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.

Using the app, residents can also be notified of mail delivery, check the number of items pending collection and authorise others to collect mail on their behalf.

PostPal features significant improvements that will reduce misdeliveries and alleviate the postman’s burden, SingPost said on Thursday (Dec 3) in announcing a year-long public trial.

PostPal has an autosort function, which means the postmen will only need to load all the mail into the machine without sorting them out individually.

The trial will start with two Housing Board 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.

A block that sees consistently high e-commerce volumes, for example, can have smaller modules in its PostPal replaced with larger ones that can accommodate bigger postal packages, it said. This configuration can also be done during the year-end online sale peak season, it added.

The postal service provider has said that traditional letterbox units are not equipped to meet the growing demands of e-commerce, especially as smaller items are often sent by mail instead of courier services, which can be more expensive.

Mr Vincent Phang, SingPost’s Singapore head and chief executive of postal services, told The Straits Times in an interview in September that the accelerated growth of e-commerce prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic has made the need to revamp the postal infrastructure more urgent.

It is an opportune time to test the smart letterbox system as demand for contactless deliveries and Singaporeans’ comfort with scanning QR codes have increased, Mr Phang noted then.


PHOTO: SINGAPORE POST

He said in a statement on Thursday that the PostPal trial has the potential to transform the letterbox infrastructure in Housing Board blocks from a “simple, letter-oriented lock-and-key structure to a cutting-edge digital system with capabilities beyond mail delivery”. It will also significantly alleviate SingPost’s labour constraints, he added.

The PostPal public trial will be progressively rolled out to more precincts, subject to the performance of the units in Clementi as well as approval from the authorities, SingPost said.

Data and feedback gathered during the trial will be used to finetune the smart letterbox system, as well as to inform the next phase of SingPost’s transformation plans, it added.

To familiarise residents with using PostPal, SingPost staff will be stationed at the void deck of Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 from noon to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 9pm on weekends starting on Dec 11.

Residents can call 6845-6222 or email [email protected] with PostPal-related queries and feedback.

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