Let the UPS guy in with Tracking Number


(James) #1

I’ve connected relays to my garage door and gate buzzer, on my SmartThings network. The design of my home is such that getting through the gate allows access to a long, totally secured entrance atrium, before the front door, so allowing UPS, USPS, FedEx, Instacart etc access to this area is extremely valuable to me. The gate is flush with the street, and I live in the Mission in SF, so leaving things at the gate is not an option.

By connecting Twilio to Smarthings, I’ve implemented a system where I can issue virtual SMS keys for friends/tradespeople that expire after a predetermined length of time or number of uses.

I’ve also written code to automatically make one-time keys for delivery persons from the last 6 digits of any tracking number that I get. There is a sign by the door with the ‘House’ sms number, instructing delivery people to use the tracking number for one-time access.

This system has been a huge convenience, and is completely controlled, configured, and logged via SMS, which makes it universally applicable. There is some crude language parsing such that I have developed my own command and config lexicon.

Along with the motion detectors connected to lights, it is by far the most useful manifestation of iOT I’ve implemented to date.

I have the Echo, Nest, Nest Protect, 4 dropcams, 2 smartthings hubs (home and work) , 5 hue lights, and extensively use IFTTT, webhooks, and Twilio.

Oh, the other really useful thing is the Smarthings sensor on the garage door - tells me if I left it open!

I can’t say enough good things about bringing SMS into the equation, all my sms based apps have flourished among family and friends, but not so much with app-driven functionality.

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Sounds like you have essentially replicated the functionality of this service (TrackPIN):

Indeed, we discussed the pros and cons, and whether or not emulation via SmartThings was feasible.

Personally, I am looking for outdoor compatible smart locks for both our entryway gate and our backyard gate. The backyard gate is not an emergency exit, and so would ideally have a keypad on both sides, or perhaps we would use SmartThings unlock for exit purposes.

The front gate is where our delivery persons leave packages now, as they are aware the gate is not kept locked. Luckily we have not had any thefts, and we will probably add a camera there to help reduce the risk.

The concern I have with your setup is convincing the vast variety of delivery services (Amazon now has contractors do deliveries on Sundays, etc., Google Express, etc.) to follow the procedure.

TrackPIN, linked above, has apparently established contracts and procedures with specific delivery companies.

(James) #3

It has been very easy to get delivery people to use it. The sign is right by the doorbell, simply: “Text last 6 of tracking/order number to (415) xxx xxxx.”

In my experience they’re sufficiently motivated to make the delivery. I guess they don’t want to come back.

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #4

Have you considered using a lock with a keypad and using a Lock Code manager to push the PIN (tracking number) to the lock, instead?

UPS now let’s you keep door codes on file, so this should be familiar to them as well.

That’s the method TrackPIN uses.

(Mike) #5

Do you want to that delivery person have to use their personal phones to send you text message?


@tgauchat I agree it would be something along the line of this:

(Chuckles) #7

Whilst a PIN pad with a sign saying try a six digit number is just inviting strangers walking past to try their luck, they would think twice about doing so via SMS given their phone number is attached to every attempt…

(James) #8

Yes, alas there is some issue around delivery people using their own phones but they seem to do it. I’m not sure if they get issued phones by UPS. Anyway, I log the time and the phone number, and I also have 2 cameras, one that can see up and down the street, and one that covers the internal atrium.

The 5 character alphanumerics (many time) codes that I issue to guests or tradespeople are associated with, and only work with, their phone numbers, and it’s all logged too of course. (In fact I get text notifications on my phone whenever anyone does anything - including failed attempts)

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

I say go ahead. If they manage to guess a 6 digit PIN code, they can grab a few things as their prize for winning the lottery.

Obviously what’s critical for this option is immediately expiring used package tracking number based PINs as soon as the code has been used, since it is far too likely the package label is still visible through the gate.

(James) #10

Yup, they get one shot. If they try again they get a message that says the owner has been notified (which he has!)

(Chuckles) #11

I’m sure there’s a social hack here somewhere…

I arrange a delivery to you, masking it as a gift (e.g. from SmartThings - Hub V3 for beta testing - lucky you!) - as the shipper I get the tracking number too… I e-mail the shipping number to you in a bogus e-mail… etc.

So…your place is the white one with the green trim and the orange roof tiles? :wink:

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #12

Yes … If this type of Delivery Drop system becomes common place, it would be essential for the Shipping/Delivery companies to generate a distinct PIN code that is never sent to anyone but the secure contact for the receiver, not the arbitrary shipper.

Of course, if we end up going to that much trouble, then the entire system is worth taking to the drawing board to come up with the most efficient way to manage “delivery person PIN codes” in general. Really this is a public-key / private-key system, no?, where the authorized delivery persons likely to visit your home will be automatically given your public-key encrypted by their private-keys for verification, etc., etc., …

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #13

August smart lock company just announced they are getting into the action as well…

Along with this new hardware, August is releasing a new platform known as August Access, an in-app service that grants access to trusted third-party companies whenever you have a delivery or appointment. Partners include companies like Sears, Postmates, and Pro.com—basically, a variety of services that need access to your home, regardless of whether you’re in it. The app will send you real-time updates when your house is being accessed, or you can see who is at your door with the Doorbell Cam. So you can rest assured if letting strangers into your home makes you nervous. Otherwise, keep in mind that August Access is opt-in only.

(Never Trust @bamarayne) #14

I’d be shocked if I could get the relevant services in my area:


To play ball with such a system. In fact, I put my garage code in my fedex profile - and they won’t use it. I talked to the fedex guy and he says they are not allowed to open doors like that and enter facilities.

UPS guy won’t enter the house.

Maybe things are changing slowly in certain areas. Not yet here.

(Mike) #15

They should not deliver it, and it will not change nationwide, there are liability issues, unknown animal status behind fenced or closed areas etc… if delivery guy actually play with you, it is against book and their supervisors should ban it. Also it slowing delivery speed and that is major player for all delivery services.

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

It’s actually very much faster for a delivery service to be able to leave the package on a first attempt rather than having to come back once or twice, and/or requiring extra service at a Pickup Depot.

Indeed, it is for this exact reason that Fedex and other shippers are actually trying to make arrangements with TrackPIN and other services and let you keep delivery instructions on file (including PIN codes…).

(Mike) #17

No, faster is leave notice. And you going to pick it up.

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #18

Well that’s certainly not the quickest and most convenient option for the recipient (the Customer) is it? :confused:


Really? You come home at 6PM and than have to run to you local pickup? That is not fast/near location.

(Mike) #20

It’s faster for delivery guy. And that what is delivery service pushing. Pay less for overhead, like delivering twice same parcel.