Walking Wi-Fi Homeless Hotspots trial

Over in Austin, Texas, at SXSW, BBH Labs has been trialling out what we can only describe as a mashup between The Big Issue and The Cloud.

Confused? You needn't be. The idea is relatively straightforward. Instead of homeless people selling magazines to allow them to earn a legitimate income, thereby helping them to reintegrate into mainstream society, Homeless Hotpsots turns them into media outlets fit for the 21st century - by becoming walking Wi-Fi hotspots.

Carrying Mi-Fi devices and wearing T-shirts advertising their services, the idea is that you get the log-in details off your chosen homeless person and then donate some money to them via PayPal. Each of the "Hotspot Managers" gets to keep all of the money they earn and the more they sell their own access, the more they as individuals make.

"How often do you see someone 'buy' a paper, only to let the homeless individual keep it?" asks the company in a blog post outlining the trial.

"This not only prevents the paper from serving as a tool for the individual to avoid begging, but it proves how little value people actually place on the publication itself. Yet the model isn’t inherently broken. It’s simply the output that’s archaic in the smartphone age."

The beta trial is over now but BBH Labs hopes "to see it adopted on a broader scale".

We wanted to end this post with a "bum-deal" line but we're not that harsh.

The homeless individuals involved are all part of the Case Management program at Front Steps Shelter. Find out how you can help the organisation by visiting www.frontsteps.org.