Case Western Reserve University’s Office of University Housing added a new “electronic package room” in Wade Commons of the North Residential Village that debuted on Nov. 6.
According to an email sent out by University Housing, the new package system, supplied by the company Luxer One, “allow[s] parcel carriers to deliver your packages straight to a secure room that you can access 24/7.”
Upon first look, you would think that such an electronic package room would give you easy access to only your package. But if you take a look at the linked YouTube video in the email explaining the system, it’s nothing but an electronically locked closet of shelves containing everyone’s packages out in the open.
Parcel carriers register in the system that your package has been delivered, which sends you a text message containing a temporary access code. To access your package, you enter the code into the touchscreen keypad outside the door located in Wade Commons which unlocks the door and gives you access to the room. You are then free to enter, take your package (or someone else’s, depending on your intentions) and leave.
But there’s no need to fear for your precious Amazon Prime-shipped ramen noodles. Just as security cameras in gas stations prevent criminals from pulling guns on the clerk 100 percent of the time, there are two security cameras—on the same side of the room for optimal coverage of course—recording 24/7 that deters anyone from taking your package.
Clearly I’m not convinced that these security cameras will do much. Sure, you can now get mom’s care package at 2 o’clock in the morning, but what happens when your package isn’t there because someone slipped it under their shirt with their back faced to the cameras? What if someone “accidentally” took your package instead of theirs? How long until someone finds out where your package went? Or who took it? Or if it still even exists? Are the cameras even monitored 24/7?
None of these questions about the security of your packages are answered on Luxer One’s facts-and-questions page on their website or on CWRU’s housing website, besides the simple statement that the single security camera records real-time footage.
The room is currently only being used for United Parcel Service (UPS) packages being shipped to residents of the North Residential Village because of size limitations, with the statement from the Office of Housing in their email that “additional parcel carriers may be added in the future.” Any other package still uses the human-run sorting system in the Area Office and requires your CWRU student ID and signature at time of pickup.
Until these safety questions are answered and cleared up, there’s no way to tell how secure this new package closet is, or if it can really work on a large scale operation to serve the hundreds of packages shipped to the North Residential Village each year.
Jason Richards is a first-year computer engineering student. He enjoys the speed of Amazon Prime shipping and spending too much money buying snacks in bulk.