Safe and secure

Kate Descamps of DAD UK, a Decayeux company, explains how installing secure mailboxes in multi-occupancy residential buildings can bring peace of mind to both tenants and landlords

They might not seem of great importance, but it’s often the smaller details that give tenants peace of mind and make them feel safe and secure in their home. A secure mailbox is one such example, with more and more people shopping online they need the reassurance that their deliveries are safe and secure, particularly when living in a multi-occupancy building such as flats or student accommodation. DAD UK has installed fire-rated letterboxes in a variety of projects including the 2012 Olympic Village accommodation, Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and student accommodation at universities in Reading, Spitalfields, Liverpool and Coventry.

When it comes to purchasing secure mailboxes, as with any safety and security-based product, Secured by Design (SBD) accreditation is always a good starting point.

However, beware! “SBD compliant mailboxes” or “conforming to the Secured by Design Homes 2016 guide” need only to be made of metal, have a lock and a not-too-large aperture to reduce the risk of fishing – they have not necessarily been tested and are not necessarily certified to any standard or specification.

Secured By Design TS009:2012 certified mailboxes answer to technical specification from the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF), backed by SBD, with the purpose to enhance the security and general requirements for freestanding, surface mounted or recessed mailboxes.

In this case the letterbox is a proven and tested security product, against both manipulation and attack tests. The stringent tests carried out by Exova Warringtonfire, one of the world’s leading independent laboratory-based testing groups, is both trusted by the SBD and the DHF. If the box passes the tests successfully, it is then given a certificate TS009 grade 1 (security) or grade 2 (High Security). So always ask for a certificate!

Smart parcel lockers

Alongside security and innovation, many manufacturers including Decayeux Group focus on technology. Smart parcel lockers can create connected entrance lobbies, especially when used alongside connected apps.

Smart parcel lockers allow residents to retrieve parcels 24/7 after placing an order online to any supplier. There’s no need to wait for a courier or go to a collection point.

The way these work generally is there will be a number of lockers with different dimensions that are shared between residents, but only one parcel at a time can be placed in one locker. As soon as the locker has been closed a text message is directly sent to the recipient with a single use access code. Once the parcel is retrieved the locker is available for another resident.

We recommend one locker for three apartments and a GSM system for more security. If these mailboxes are to be placed outside of the building, we also recommend installing a CCTV camera in front of it. It’s then up to you whether or not these are used in combination with standard mailboxes.

Smart parcel lockers can be used in conjunction with compatible apps, allowing residents to share information with neighbours, property managers, concierges and local stores or service suppliers. All these solutions can be discussed with a specialist.

These apps are designed to have a social and societal dimension, fostering social cohesion. They are dedicated to improving the everyday life of residents within multi-occupancy buildings, helping communication between the occupants. Smart parcel lockers can even become an integral part of the community, as residents can not only receive their parcels, but also barter, lend items and receive special offers from local businesses. Alongside these apps, many providers also offer digital notice boards as a substitute to standard notice boards, allowing residents and property managers to access real-time information. Some manufacturers are even offering a completely integrated lobby, where the main door is also connected to the app.

The advantage for property managers when it comes to a smart parcel locker is that they will have access to software from which they can manage the database (names of residents and flats numbers) and the set up of the mailboxes (for instance, the number of days one parcel can stay in one locker before sending a new text message to the recipient to retrieve it).

Manufacturers should have a dedicated team to assist with the set up of these systems and provide training on how to use them. While the concept of including these mailboxes in UK residences is still relatively new, it’s a growing market – in France major developers and student accommodation providers have installed smart parcel locker systems, while in the UK we’ve seen the appearance of Amazon lockers in public spaces.

Kate Descamps is business development manager at DAD UK