Treading a thin line between totally unethical/wrong and gainful temporary employment, companies at SXSW Music Festival are hiring homeless people to act as WiFi hotspots. Here's how it works:
If you’re a SXSW attendee and want access, all you have to do is make a donation of your choosing to the homeless hotspot you wish to “use” and you’ll receive unlimited access, suggested donation $2 per 15 minutes. When all is said and done, each “Hotspot Manager,” as they are called, gets to keep all the donations made in order to gain access to his particular hotspot.
And here's what people are saying about this marketing scheme/temp job:
While having roaming hotspots may be very useful for SXSW attendees who want better access to network connectivity considering that Wi-Fi is lacking, the concept of taking the homeless and “turning them into” infrastructure has some implications that don’t go over well with everyone. “The shirt doesn’t say, ‘I have a 4G hotspot.’ It says, ‘I am a 4G hotspot,’” Jon Mitchell of Read Write Web points out.
Front Steps, based in Austin and responsible for finding the Hotspot Managers, all of whom were selected after a fairly detailed application process, says that the project fits with the organization’s goals of ”empowerment, education, and encouragement of the client to earn an income while saving the majority of those earnings with a goal of moving to safe and stable housing.”
Personally, I don't agree with treating homeless people like objects rather than human beings, but I like that they get to interact with the public and make some money at the same time. But what do you think-is this gainful employment, or a way to exploit the homeless?