Using Homeless People As Wi-Fi Hotspots

For the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive event in Austin, BBH Labs came up with an unusual way to make sure everyone could access the internet – by logging into a 4G network provided by a homeless person.

Homeless people in the Case Management program at Front Steps Shelter could be found wearing ‘homeless hotspot’ T-shirts and carrying MiFi devices. Users log on to the 4G network via their phone or tablet, paying the person for the usage, with Paypal being the preferred method. All the money goes to the homeless person.

BBH has received several complaints about the system, with people saying that it exploits the homeless, and the fact that the T-shirts say ‘I am a 4G hotspot’, not ‘I have a 4G hotspot’. 

“We’re using SXSW as our beta test,” the company said in an introduction post on its website. “Hopefully you can help us optimize and validate this platform, which we hope to see adopted on a broader scale.”

Is this idea really exploitive or ingenious? Share your thoughts in the comments below.