Amazon recently announced a new service, Amazon Key, that allows delivery drivers to unlock your door and enter your home to drop off a package. The usefulness of this concept is clear to many homeowners. Package theft is a serious concern, and those who dwell in urban areas are at high risk of coming home expecting a box to find it mysteriously vanished. But is it a good idea to give delivery workers access to your property?
How does Amazon Key work?
Amazon Key uses a combination of technologies to open the door when a package arrives. For hardware, you need a smartphone, a smart camera, and a smart lock. The service is only available in certain cities, but as is common with Amazon it will likely spread to other cities in the future.
When the package is in transit to your home, you get a message from Amazon letting you know. When the driver reaches the front door, they scan the package and the door magically unlocks. They drop the box inside, and the door locks itself again.
The driver should just drop the box and go, but just to make sure they didn’t try anything shady, Amazon sends you a video of the entire process to your phone so you know everything was up-to-par.
Beware dogs and valuables?
The Amazon Key camera works like a regular security camera and is attached to the cloud. For a fee, users can archive video online, which includes full audio captured in the room.
While Amazon clearly took thoughtful steps when developing this product, security is at the front of my mind. I have not always had the best of luck dealing with Amazon deliveries, particularly when my Prime packages are dropped off by alternative shipper OnTrack. But in any case, would you want to let a UPS, FedEx, or other delivery driver into your home while you are off at work or away from the house?
The convenience is quite tempting, but as a dog owner with a handful of valuable electronics around my home, I would think twice before signing up for this Amazon service. I doubt any driver would try to steal something with a camera pointed at the front door, but there is always some level of risk letting strangers into your home unsupervised.
Even worse is the prospect for pet owners. Any time a truck pulls up in front of my home, the dogs go into full alert mode and rush to the front door. If a driver were to open the door, I would worry my little guys might dash out into the street and escape. That is not a concern for everyone, but it is something to think about.
Technology and real estate go hand in hand
Even if you don’t feel comfortable buying Amazon Key, which costs about $250 and is available for pre-sale as of this writing, it is undeniable that the technologies involved do improve convenience and security at many homes.
Web connected cameras allow homeowners to check in on pets, kids, and valuables from anywhere in the world. Smart locks solve worries of kids arriving home from school without a key or parent at home, help you let the maid into the house while you’re at work, and give your neighbors a virtual version of a spare key. Some modern smart locks even auto-unlock as you walk up to your house and your phone’s GPS tells your lock that you’re home.
One interesting potential application of this technology is replacing the lock box with a smart lock. At sister site ReallyRottenRealty, we found many instances of lock boxes going to bad use. After all, thieves can see a lockbox and may be able to break it open to get into the property. With a smart lock on the home, thieves would need to physically break into the home to get access.
Get ready for a new wave of home security
Home security systems are nothing new, but new, smart home systems take home security to an entirely new level. You can video from your doorbell, control your lights and locks with a tap of your phone, and now give others access to a property while on video for approved purposes.
Before we know it, that may extend to open houses, real estate agent tours, and more. Only time will tell the next big change in smart home security.
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My concern is how securely are the keys that trigger the device to open the door maintained? Any chance of a delivery person giving that info to someone else, the key getting replicated and sold on the market, hacked, and does this give any delivery person unlimited access?
Given the minimal value of my packages, I don’t think I’d risk giving access to my house. I’d rather have the package stolen. The delivery person can leave it behind my gate or on my back porch.
I agree completely. In my case, we have an entryway that is out-of-view from the street, and I would rather give access to that than my entire home. If I were still in an urban condo I might think otherwise, but in my suburban style neighborhood in my small city, I’m not too worried.