UPS tests smart devices to enter New York City apartment buildings for deliveries

Sandy Springs-based UPS says it has launched a pilot program using Latch smart access devices for its drivers to enter apartment buildings in New York City to make deliveries.

UPS said the devices make it more convenient for residents who aren't at home to get deliveries, while it allows the company to complete more deliveries on a first attempt to cut costs.

The shipping giant said it began testing use of Latch devices in Manhattan earlier this year and has expanded to Brooklyn.

UPS drivers use their handheld device to unlock the door to enter a building, and Latch records the entry while a camera also records the interaction.

Efforts to get deliveries to customers as online shopping grows have driven systems like Amazon Key with wi-fi connected locks and in-car deliveries. Companies are working to strike a balance between access and convenience versus security and privacy.

UPS said it “is using Latch systems only to enter buildings, not individual apartments.” Residents can use Latch to enter the building and manage guest access.

The company said it may eventually add the service to more cities in the United States, but did not have a timeline for expansion.

UPS vice president of global product innovation Jerome Roberts said in a written statement that the use of smart access devices on apartment and condo buildings “is a big step forward for the package delivery business.”

"It can be difficult to securely deliver packages in high-density, multi-family urban residences, especially when people are not at home," according to Roberts. "Smart access devices give us a keyless way to deliver packages to buildings and leave packages safely in lobbies or building package rooms."