Tragedy of the commons: Apartment edition

2018-11-30 2 min read

    ‘Tis the season where mailrooms get filled with delivery boxes and it’s getting busier every year. Mary Meeker mentioned the trend of building lobbies becoming ecommerce storage facilities and it’s more true than ever. My building has a small package room which has been filled solid this week after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

    It’s so inaccessible that it’s easier for me to just wait for others to get their packages and free some space before I go in to search for my own. Unfortunately, if everyone feels that way then no one gets their package and it becomes a true tragedy of the commons. Instead of helping each other out we’re waiting for others to improve the situation while it constantly gets worse with newly arriving packages.

    This is clearly all tongue in cheek and everyone wants to get their package as soon as they can but there is some truth here. Mailrooms are getting more and more packed and as more and more of our daily items are delivered at ever increasing frequency it really does become more difficult to manage the situation.

    The primary problem is that all packages look the same. What if each apartment had their own unique style that was somehow reflected on the boxes? Maybe it’s a uniquely designed label. Or maybe it’s unique packing tape. Similar to an airport where people have their own unique luggage tags what if ecommerce companies started giving each box a unique look to make it easier for it to be found? It’s definitely more expensive but would be a nice touch and make package delivery more efficient for us apartment dwellers.