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IMDA to seek proposals for parcel locker network in Punggol, Bukit Panjang

A system of parcel lockers will dot the island and an Airbnb equivalent for cargo space will be rolled out as part of a plan to modernise the logistics sector.

[SINGAPORE ] The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will request for proposals by the end of the year to deploy a network of parcel lockers in the Punggol and Bukit Panjang housing estates and MRT stations, the government agency said on Wednesday.

IMDA will also call a tender to deploy an interoperable platform to provide secured open access to the lockers in the network. The pilot is slated to begin in the second half of 2018 and will be on trial for six to 12 months.

Those details were announced as part of an Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for the logistics sector, the first of many blueprints that are planned as part of the nation's economic restructuring strategy.

Aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, the SME Go Digital Programme has an S$80 million budget to help businesses confront challenges brought by digital disruption.

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Announcing the plan for logistics, Finance Minister and chairman of the Future Economy Council Heng Swee Keat said these plans are tailored for the industry to grow. "When we talk about the future economy, it is important to remember that amid the changes, we continue to see growth opportunities," he said.

He was speaking at the inaugural Future Economy Conference and Exhibition 2017, organised by the Singapore Business Federation, at Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands.

He said: "The rise of the middle-class and urbanisation within the region will increase the demand for financial services, hub services, logistics and urban solutions."

Singapore's go-digital push has given IMDA an outsized role in helping to plan the transformation of major sectors here.

The next IDP will be rolled out for the struggling retail sector, as well as for food services, wholesale trade, environmental services and security.

Through these sector-specific IDPs, IMDA will identify projects with the potential to help SMEs grow their business, which will, in turn, lift the sector. The authority will work with the private sector to co-create technology solutions.

For the logistics sector, one such solution is the parcel locker system to reduce house-to-house delivery inefficiencies, especially given the increase in online shopping. Citing data from logistics providers, IMDA said that more than one in 10 deliveries could not be fulfilled due mostly to recipients not being at home.

It is thus looking to roll out a network of lockers - akin to extra large mail boxes - to facilitate deliveries without recipients needing to wait at home. The pilot will initially cover 75 lockers, but the plan is to have some 760 lockers around Singapore eventually.

Currently, similar systems such as SingPost's Popstation and Ninja Van's Ninja Boxes already exist. But the lockers accept deliveries that only the respective service providers process.

The locker system proposed will not be tied to any single operator, and can be used by all couriers, potentially benefiting more than 7,600 logistics service providers here.

The second project announced is the Airbnb equivalent for cargo space, where large shippers can sell unused cargo space at a discount to smaller shippers.

IMDA has signed a memorandum of intent with locally based e-freight platform provider vCargo Cloud to create this platform.

Logistics firms France-based Bollore Logistics (Singapore) and Taiwan-based Dimerco Express Singapore and insurance broker LCH Lockton are also participating in the project.