South by Southwest (SxSW) is a private company based in Austin, Texas, with a year-round staff of professionals dedicated to building and delivering conference and festival events for entertainment and related media industry professionals. Since 1987, SxSW has produced the internationally recognized Music and Media Conference & Festival.
Advertising agency BBH New York decided to transform some of Austin’s homeless people into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots during SxSW Interactive.
They created the “Homeless Hotspots” as a charitable innovation initiative to help support the homeless populations. SxSW attendees can pay what they like to access the 4G wireless network. The homeless person acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot wore a t-shirt that said “I’m a 4G hotspot.” Attendees were encouraged to donate $2 for every 15 minutes of use. Money was then collected via PayPal in which all the proceeds went directly to the homeless person acting as the hotspot.
The locations of each “homeless hotspot” was displayed on an interactive google map, allowing you to find your closest hotspot.
“I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless, and increase awareness. They’re trying not to put us in a situation where we’re stereotyped. That’s a good side of it, too — we get to talk to people. Maybe give them a different perception of what homeless is like,” said Melvin, one of the homeless hotspots.
The initiative has brought some controversy among SxSW attendees. What do you think of the “homeless hotspot” initiative? Let us know by commenting below!
Read more about the initiative here.
**UPDATE** the agency decided not to continue with this concept after the initial launch. via