The future of highrise communities, parcel delivery and identity verification

Dubai from Emirates plane - this city might need highrise parcel lockers

Dubai from Emirates plane – this city might need highrise parcel lockers

My husband just started work on a new 10-year Meriton residential high rise project and i was astounded to realise they’re still building letter boxes instead of electronic parcel lockers.

What letters will we still receive in 10 years* time, let alone during the 60 years the building will remain standing?

And how expensive will it be to install parcel lockers later when they realise the necessity?

Along with underground rainwater tanks and solar panels, all new buildings should be installing lockers which send PINs or scannable barcodes (& the locker number & location map) to the mobile phone of the addressee – right now. We already have this technology. Realistically in 10 years we’ll all be using eye retinas for ID, so installing technology we’re using now isn’t that “way out”.

For additional security in bigger buildings the parcel lockers could be housed in a room that requires swipe card access & has cameras like banks ATMs in the city.

Any futurist can clearly see how different our life will be in 10 years. Humans are going through a change right now, realising that they’re not happy & that they’re craving health & connection. They’ll start finding ways to live & interact as happy communities did 60 years ago. Remember playing footy and cricket in the street, way after the street lights came on? There’s a reason obesity is increasing in Australia.

In the short term this sea-change will mean less time spent at a difficult-to-get-to workplace. More people will work from home, less people will own cars – so getting to a post office to pick up (or drop off) a parcel will become more difficult (how do you carry a dozen bottles of wine all the way home from the post office after it has been carded? Truthfully, i’ve had to kick Miss3 out of her pram & make her walk – tres classy.)

Parcel lockers will become the new Street Posting Boxes (SPBs) – one next to every corner shop, at train stations & bus depots, near shopping centres, outdoor gyms, in any dense living zones.

They’ll be for parcel drop offs (eg mail lodgement) too, accepting payment for postage on the spot, probably using NFC.

You can also see how parcel vans will need to change to accommodate the new lockers – vans will be taller, with a crated shelf interior, and come with gravity slides & rollers to quickly get the parcels in & out.

In the longer term, human lifestyle change will be much more dramatic. Highrise and gated resorts with community vegetable plots, playgroups, meditation gardens, organised team sports, organic supermarkets full of local produce – these are the homes of the future (& odds are, parcel delivery guys won’t have access). Estates are already popping up now, faster than Google can map them – soon they’ll only be open to residents.

I can hear my friends working in delivery & retail at AusPost worrying about their employment – there’s no need to worry, I see a very important future for what i’d like to call AusConnect (no longer AusPost or even AusCom[munications] = we’re in the business of Connections).

One such role is ID verification, personality tests & interviews.

Many religious groups are already starting to gravitate towards certain suburbs, close to their favoured temple, synagogue, mosque or church. You’ll find pockets of sportsmen living in the same areas too, because they have something in common. Hippies already have communes up north. Beach lovers live near beaches.

But what will connect the irreligious and non-greenies, or those of us who are unsporting? How will we know which people it is safe to live with & trust in our community?

As invasive as it sounds, ID verification may play a big role in this – the rental home interview process will no longer just involve financial checks & landlord checks to make sure you cleaned up after your dogs last time you moved out. Your neighbours now want to know – can we allow our kids to go to the park with you or do i need to microchip every button & zip on my child’s outfit? Are your domestic disturbances shortlived & quickly healed or regular & violent? How often (and what type) of drugs do you use?

As much as online profiles are starting to affect employment, they’ll soon have an impact on living arrangements too, with neighbours voting each other up & down in popularity to the point where unsavoury tenants are evicted and may find it difficult to find housing elsewhere.

For a growing number of persons who reject participation in “the Internet”, it may be harder for them to give character references – here’s where AusConnect could help, conducting ID verification and character evaluation/psych tests at the local post office. Scary, but not completely farfetched.

Another important future retail role for AusConnect employees relates to health care. When most of us eat healthy, exercise & actively work on our mental wellness – we don’t need doctors. But we may still need pharmaceuticals (ventolin for asthmatics and contraception come to mind).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken Miss3 to the doctor for a prescription & arrived home with a seriously ill child. AusConnect can help, with “Wellness” staff. Perhaps affiliated with health insurance or workers compensation programs or the Roads Traffic Authority, these people will be authorised to do the few tests that can’t be done online yet (weight checking, spirometry readings, eye tests, ID checking before handing over insulin injection kits etc).

Don’t worry, this won’t take work away from chemists either – they’ll continue to do a roaring trade with recovering meth and heroin addicts who can’t find accommodation.

Another great job for the AusConnect delivery staff is in-resort/estate distribution. Not everything can be whacked in a parcel locker, some things will need additional ID or organisation – medicines, passports, delivery & installation of large items like furniture, art, cars for example. It will be a trust based role & may eventually involve a free home as the live-in caretaker takes on more duties.

Okay… i’ll stop here, as i can imagine the future all day.


*PS even though i don’t think we’ll get many letters, i still don’t think mail or print is dead… more on this another time 🙂


4 thoughts on “The future of highrise communities, parcel delivery and identity verification

  1. all so tru…just like all new homes must have an electricty meter box installed as part of the construction process which is a requirement under the bulding code, all new properties [homes and units] should be required by law to have a parcel delivery facility built for each dwelling as part of the constuct / design. i think the same applys currently for mailboxes. Builders would simply comply by adding this into the planning process and passing costs on to owners [as they do for all other manditory fixtures] Perhaps the industry should lobby the relevant local and state government departments and industry bodies to change this process. I am sure all online retailers would support this…

    1. Great idea @Paul! Happy for you to take on this action point, since i’m about to take up the lack of recycling in my 90 x unit building with Bankstown council… that will be fun 🙂

  2. Great post Kristen, your vision of the future is insightful and frightening. The ability for social media to impact housing would accelerate the gentrification process which is already running rampant around the globe. Unfortunately these trends breed conservativism and tend to bleed the culture and vibrance from a place. Your ideas of AusConnect are great and in lieu of matter compilers and teleport devices I think that parcel lockers and service/care distribution is an important ste in the right direction.

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