March 15, 2012
Turning the homeless into 4G hotspots.
Advertising agency BBH launched an initiative that gives out wifi hotspots to homeless people with the profits going to charity.
Wired reports: ‘The idea is that you pay the homeless person a small fee in return for being able to sit near them and access your email.
The initiative builds on the idea of street newspapers, such as The Big Issue, created and sold by homeless people.
However, these publications, like other newspapers, are also suffering at the hands of digital media. So BBH decided to “modernise” the street newspaper. So instead of delivering content, they decided to deliver access to content.
The results is the Homeless Hotspots project, which involves homeless individuals from the Front Steps Shelter carrying MiFi devices.’
The project has been greeted with a mixture of bewilderment, disbelief and accusations that this is an elaborate piece of satire.
CNN reports: Out on the streets, the Homeless Hotspots themselves say they’re surprised by the outcry.
“They’re giving us the opportunity to work,” says Mark West. “You’re proving a service for the public. It’s like an individual business.”
Mail Online reports ‘It’s not clear whether the Homeless Hotspots project will have a wider launch after the technology conference.’