Residents of Clementi HDB block start trial of smart letter boxes

SingPost senior manager Jovan Lim helping 90-year-old resident Chee Fook Chow to retrieve his mail at Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 on Dec 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Postpal uses a data matrix printed on a label on every envelope to help it sort to the different households. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Residents of Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6 will now be notified on their mobile phones of new mail and can collect it with a touch of their phone screens during a year-long trial.

All they have to do is to launch the SingPost app on their phones to generate a QR code. They can then scan the code at a PostPal kiosk at the foot of their block and the mail will be dispensed by the machine.

SingPost's smart letter box system was launched on Friday (Dec 18) by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann.

In the past week, nine in 10 eligible households in the Housing Board block registered for the smart letter box trial. The block has about 100 households.

Residents will be notified of mail delivery via the SingPost app, which also enables them to check the number of items pending collection and authorise others to collect mail on their behalf.

The smart letter box system can also auto-sort mail, which means the postmen will only need to load all the mail into the machine without sorting them out individually.

This reduces the time taken to deliver mail from 20 minutes to just five, a SingPost spokesman said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Sim said: "We are off to a very encouraging start. Our residents have shown great willingness and readiness to try new things. I think this reflects that we have come to a certain stage in digitalisation."

When asked whether the Government has plans to further improve the postal service, she said that the sky was the limit for a smart letter box system that can save on manpower.

The year-long PostPal trial will be progressively rolled out to more precincts, including one in the north, subject to the performance of the units in Clementi as well as approval from the authorities, SingPost earlier said.

Residents in Block 205 Clementi Avenue 6 will join the pilot in the weeks ahead.

PostPal was developed in collaboration with PBA Group, a robotics and automation firm headquartered in Singapore. The smart letterbox system is powered by the Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IOT) platform.

At the launch on Friday, SingPost's Singapore head and chief executive of postal services Vincent Phang said he was heartened by the rate of adoption.

"We (will) continue our outreach efforts to make sure that we get the rest of the residents on board as well," he added.

Since Dec 11, SingPost staff have been stationed at the void deck of Block 202 to introduce residents to the smart letter box system.

Resident Sarina Tan, 62, said: "It was very easy to learn and use. What I like about this is that I don't have to open the letter box unnecessarily every day."

A QR code generated by the SingPost app will enable residents to retrieve their items from the smart letterbox system at Block 202 Clementi Avenue 6. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
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Part-time school bus driver Sim Soon Lee and his wife also learnt how to use the machine.

"The staff were very patient. They said if we still don't know how to use the machine they can teach us again," added Mr Sim, 69.

Residents can call 6845-6222 or e-mail if they have PostPal-related queries and feedback.

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