Imagine you desperately want a coffee, but you have no time to go buy one, and the coffee bar has no delivery service. That’s where urban logistics and on-demand delivery platform Postmates comes in.
Postmates, headquartered in San Francisco, is a delivery service that aims to transform the way local goods move around a city by filling a spatial gap between products and customers. Connecting customers with local couriers, who purchase and deliver goods from any restaurant or store in a city, the platform wants to enable anyone to get any product delivered in under one hour.
Similar to high-end service-oriented tech companies like Uber, Breather, and MakeSpace, Postmates is built around a neat smartphone application. The on-demand delivery service works with a large pool of casual contractors who drive the cars and ride the bicycles to shift users’ stuff around on demand. Delivery fees start at $5 and are determined based on the distance of the delivery.
What makes Postmates particularly interesting is that it enables you to get products delivered from any business, whether it offers delivery or not. It’s one of those intelligent services that are able to make cities and life in cities more pleasant and efficient. Most governments and urban designers have a hard time defining what a ‘Smart City’ is, and when they have an idea, they tend to think of a Modernist, master-planned city stacked with sensors, cameras, and hardcore technology. At the same time they easily overlook the wave of service-oriented tech companies like Postmates, Uber, Breather, and MakeSpace, that are well capable of making cities work more efficiently, and contribute to the Smart City in a bottom-up way.