A lot of cities don’t have the right resources in the right places to help their homeless population. And a lot of cities have spotty wireless coverage. Both are problems, but on a much different scale. And tackling both at the same time . . . just feels wrong.
–A marketing company called BBH wants to kill two birds with one stone . . . by TURNING homeless people INTO wireless hotspots. They give them the equipment, and a t-shirt identifying themselves.
–Then, when you see a person in an “I’m a 4G Hot Spot” shirt, you can donate money by PayPal to connect to their network. And all the money goes to the homeless person.
–They’re testing the program with 12 homeless people this week at the South by Southwest arts and technology festival in Austin, Texas.
–Obviously the idea has stirred up criticism about the treatment of homeless people, and how to tackle the problem of homelessness in general. Some people think it’s an ‘innovative’ idea . . . and that’s what the festival is about. But is it exploitation?
–The 12 test subjects include someone displaced by Hurricane Katrina, a woman who escaped an abusive marriage, a parolee, and a man celebrating 18 months of sobriety.