Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeless Wi-fi. Good Idea, or Other?

A new initiative to help homeless people earn money has sparked outcry in Austin, Texas when the homeless were asked to wear T-shirts indicating they could provide wi-fi Internet access at a recent SXSW music and technology conference.

This is Clarence, a 4G Hotspot homeless participant who provides Internet access - for a fee, of course.

For the cost of $2 per 15 minutes conference attendees gained Internet access as they stood beside a homeless person with MiFi devices connected to the Internet via the 4G phone network.

MiFi device (pictured) which connect to the Internet via the 4G phone network
and offer web access via a wi-fi network.
Some people saw the initiative of BBH, the brains behind the initiative, as crass and exploitative, however, BBH stands firm on the theory that they are merely helping homeless help themselves. 

"Obviously, there’s an insane amount of chatter about this, which although certainly villianises us, in many ways is very good for the homeless people we’re trying to help", said one BBH spokesperson.

Adding, "Homeless Hotspots is a charitable innovation initiative - it attempts to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations."

So, we're asking you. Are Homeless Hotspots exploiting, or helping, homeless people?

Have you a better idea?

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