First, since this is my first post of the year, let me wish you all the best for 2012, hoping that it will bring a lot of interesting things around mobile security, Java Card, and all these things.
My first post will be a rant about something that is very-much holiday-related for me: package deliveries. I am a big-time online shopper, which means that I often get deliveries. And of course, during the holiday season, I get a lot of deliveries, from many different vendors.
Until recently, My deliveries were all coming to the office, as this was a local tradition in our Trusted Logic office. However, now, I work in an office with much fewer people, and sometimes from home, so it is not as easy to organize deliveries at the office. So, this holiday season, I got everything shipped at home.
Of course, I live in a closed residence (some code is required to get in), and my postal address allows you to find my mailbox easily, but not necessarily my house (no street numbers). All of this makes me a perfect guinea pig for testing delivery services.
So far, the best service remains the basic Post Office service. They have the key to the mailbox, so they will use it for anything that fits in it. Just great. Of course, if it doesn’t fit, I have to run to the Post Office and stand in line for a while. Even their express service is worse, because they need a signature. So, if I’m not home, they will not leave the package, however small, and I’m back to the Post Office.
With other delivery companies, things get much worse. First, going to the Post Office is not an option, because their “regional center” is often 30 or 40 kilometers away. Then, they don’t have the key to my mailbox, so they won’t leave a package, however small.
And finally, they call you when they are blocked right in front of a locked gate, or waiting outside your door. Even for me who works close from home, this is not very easy to handle, because we are not always immediately available, and because the guy can’t wait indefinitely. In the end, the “express” package took 24 hours to rush from Hong Kong to Nice, and one full week to get delivered. Not efficient.
So, what’s missing? Let’s consider two things:
- I can’t manage the delivery. I can track the package, I can know that the delivery guy has started and will try delivering to an empty home, but I can’t do anything about it.
- I can’t sign off for a delivery when I am not home. So, the guys won’t leave the package in my mailbox.
Now, if we look at both issues, we easily find out that this is a trust issue: delivery companies are not sure of who I am, so they will not trust me. Why so? Because they are not able to associate me to my package when I am at home, in front of them.
This definitely looks like a problem that can be solved. Companies like TrustFabric already allow you to selectively share information with companies. They don’t support this yet, but there is definitely some information that I would like to share with delivery companies (possibly including a detailed map, GPS coordinates, or whatever may get them to me).
Having this link through a trusted third party also solves the other issue. If I simply associate my TrustFabric account to a public credential (OpenID or similar), I can now login to their site and update the directions for the delivery, to lead them to where I actually am, or to acknowledge the fact that I am allowing them to leave the package in my mailbox without a written signature (a digital one will do).
As TrustFabric and others are getting their offers ready, this is getting closer to reality. Let’s hope for this new year that they will cover this delivery nightmare, and I will not have to do the same rant.