Smart Mailboxes

Canada Post mailbox design by Dave Delisle

The big news in Canada this week is that Canada Post will be phasing out door-to-door delivery for all urban centres (thanks Obama). This means Canadians who currently get mail delivered right to their house will now have to head to their friendly neighborhood communal mailbox to retrieve their mail.

Having used communal mailboxes before I don’t mind this change at all, but there are quite a few Canadians who are up in arms over this (nationally it’s about on par with a blown call in a Leafs game). I’m pretty sure the anger will subside in a matter of months, because us Canadians are terrible with grudges.  

That said I feel there is an opportunity for the incoming communal boxes that will be installed in cities and towns across the country in 2014. In no particular order:

1. Advertising. These mailboxes could be home to a large advert, much like what you’d see on a bus shelter. I would prefer to see a bunch of small ads in lieu of junk mail (flyers). While it is true that Canada Post relies on bulk mail for income, I feel it’s worth looking at as a means to reduce waste. Plus no one likes getting junk mail.

2. Stamp Vending. Insert a coin or two and get a stamp on the spot. Instead of a physical stamp I would prefer an imprint of some kind, so I don’t have to deal with a machine being out of stamps. I know I know, stamp vending sounds so 21st Century. Sorry.

Canada Post mailbox design by Dave Delisle

3. Outgoing mailbox. This one’s obvious, but a place to send my outgoing mail too. I can’t remember if the communal mailboxes I used long ago had them! Either way, a communal mailbox should serve both incoming and outgoing mail.

4. You have mail. A sensor in the mailbox that would send a text message alerting its owner something has arrived. This one is a pipe dream I know, but maybe you don’t want to walk a couple of blocks two or three times a day checking to see if your Amazon parcel has arrived*. For this and the previously mentioned vending option the communal mailbox would need to run on power. Maybe a solar option similar to this?

5. I don’t want junk mail or phonebooks thank-you. I would like some sort of means to notify Canada Post that no, I don’t want junk mail or phonebooks. I’d like to have some kind of notification system at my communal mailbox expressing what is acceptable. I’d like to see some sliders like this, which can only be operated from inside the mailbox. We might finally have a nationwide system in place that would finally kill unwanted junk!

Obviously a communal mailbox that features any or all of these ideas wouldn’t be a replacement for a post office, but it would offer some new conveniences as a consolation to us city-dwellers who now have to make the arduous trek down the street to grab the mail.

*For those who don’t know: if you get a large package in a communal mailbox, a key to a larger box (holding your item) is placed in your mailbox. You then leave the key in the large box after you grabbed your item. I’ve seen a few people fretting about their package deliveries these last few days!

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