The homeless hotspots initiative was trialled at SXSW conference in Texas where homeless people wear T-Shirts with “I’m a 4G hotspot” on them and people can connect to wifi hotspots for $2 for 15 minutes access. This is certainly a different take on Social WiFi.
I can’t quite decide if this is genius or horrendous! It’s certainly a modern day, potentially more useful take on ‘The Big Issue’ (if you’re like me, you buy it and never get round to reading it). So if this is something of genuine value to the end user and is also a way of generating income for the homeless, is that good?
There is certainly a lot of chatter to the contrary and I would imagine that creative agency BBH, who came up with the idea, are nursing some sore heads from the whole thing.
There may be ways of doing this that don’t result in people standing awkwardly next to, or worse, chasing around a homeless person leaching data from them. If the MiFi devices were part of an established WiFi network or broadcast multiple SSIDs then there may be a revenue stream from data offloading and with enough people carrying the devices you could roam between signals.
Although BBH have been vilified for this it should start a debate that will hopefully come up with something that does benefit the homeless in a modern digital world.