Homeless Hotspots: Homeless people as walking Wi-Fi at SXSW 2012 spark debate (Video)

By on Mar 13, 2012 in Internet, Lifestyle, Technology, United States Comments

Homeless people are being turned into walking Wi-Fi aerials during the South by Southwest (SXSW) 2012 event in Austin, Texas, with Clarence from New Orleans being one of them is shown in the video below.

Homeless Hotspots logo
Image Credit: HomelessHotspots.org

As noted at US news sites on Monday, March 12, 2012, Homeless Hotspots is a “charitable experiment” created by a Manhattan ad agency, wherein homeless people are offering a Wi-Fi service to users within 30 feet.

According to reports, Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH) handed out the free 4G MiFi gadgets to the peddlers, who wore T-shirts bearing their names and the words “I’m a 4G hotspot”, offering their services for a suggested price of $2 per 15 minutes, although any donation is accepted.

“Our hope is to create a modern version of this successful model, offering homeless individuals an opportunity to sell a digital service instead of a material commodity.” A statement reads at HomelessHotspots.org.

SxSW Interactive attendees can pay what they like to access 4G networks carried by our homeless collaborators. This service is intended to deliver on the demand for better transit connectivity during the conference.” The statement added.

However, the act ignited some debates and various websites as well as from some Twitter users criticized it but Saneel Radia of BBH defended it via the BBH Lab blog, emphasizing that that there is no particular brand involved or any commercial benefit whatsoever.

“The digital divide has never hit us over the head with a more blunt display of unselfconscious gall. It was an honest attempt to help, but the chosen priorities left it with all model and no substance,” Jon Mitchell wrote on ReadWriteWeb.com.

“It’s not just the lack of meaningful content that is bothersome. The “Homeless Hotspot” campaign turns these 13 men into a social experiment with apparently little merit.” Chenda Ngak wrote at News.CNET.com.

Apparently, BBH also had a similar project earlier called “Unheard in New York“, a program that provided four homeless residents in New York City with a cell phone, unlimited text messages and a Twitter account to recount their daily lives.

Homeless Hotspots participant Clarence
Video Credit: TroopSpace1/YouTube

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