The door that fights parcel thieves

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The BBC has a report on a newly invented door that's supposed to solve the problem of parcel thieves:

It raised quite a few questions in my mind:
(1) I had always assumed that postmen weren't meant to leave parcels on the doorstep, as mine does. That's what Royal Mail told me, though they can't seem to stop him doing it.
(2) How many people think it's a good thing to have a front door that can effectively be opened electronically?
(3) How many people could even open their front doors if they had large compartments containing packages on the inside? I don't think I could opem mine more than a few inches. If you have to take the parcel out of the front before opening the door, why not just have a fixed lockable box outside, and avoid compromising the door altogether?
(4) How many thieves would carry a smartphone when dealing with a device that could trace their smartphones?
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  • Laird
Some thoughts on / answers to your questions, Chris:

(1) Not sure what the general situation / prescription is globally or even nationally here in Aus, let alone in the UK, and especially from a legal/policy perspective, but in my (small, isolated) town, they only tend to refrain from leaving parcels on the doorstep when a signature is required. Otherwise, it seems to be basically accepted that if somebody's not home, the postie can leave the parcel on the doorstep.

(2) I guess it depends on (a) how much folks generally trust whichever eKey protocol the manufacturers are using, and (b) to what extent folks generally trust the construction and security of the compartments which open up to take in parcels. Re (b), a few related questions would be: (i) Is the material from which the compartment walls are made easily cut with a knife or other tool to make a hole big enough to climb through? and (ii) Do the compartments stay open long enough, or can they be forced to remain open for long enough, to cut such a hole and climb through it?

(3) Good question! The front door on my home could be opened in that scenario, but I struggle to think of other homes where this is the case. Re the fixed lockable box outside: good idea! I guess the only potential drawback is lack of space or suitable location.

(4) Good question, but a possible rejoinder is: how many thieves would be aware that the device could trace their smartphones in the first place?
I think though flawed, it is an acknowledgement of a genuine problem. Much as I like to support brick-and-mortar shops, they have declined over the years, first large superstores wiped out the small shops, then online retailing is wiping out the larger ones. Hence mail order is now the only possible way to buy certain items. When an electrical item blows a fuse, instead of taking a stroll down to a local supplier, now someone in China puts the replacement in an envelope and posts it.

In the UK, the mail service will sometimes leave a package with a neighbour, though I think the official policy is that they will attempt to redeliver another day, if that fails, they leave a card, and the package must be collected from a depot, which may be in some out-of-town location. One option I've used in some cases is to choose to have packages delivered to a convenient local collection point. I actually feel this could be a growth area, such pick-up points might become more plentiful. Of course, there isn't just a single mail service, a number of different companies are making deliveries, each will have its own official as well as informal practice.

Regarding the original article, playing around with the structure of a door seems like a pretty idea to demonstrate at a show, whether it ever appears in real life I think is doubtful.
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  • Laird
Yes, I think picking it up at a local shop is usually the best option (though I am spoiled because the Royal Mail delivery office is at the end of my road).

My favourite story about a delivery failure was told by someone who arrived home to find a card saying a parcel had been left in a safe place. Unfortunately the courier had chosen their dustbin as the safe place, and the bin had later been emptied ...
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  • Typoz, Laird

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