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People as 4G hotspots

April 10th 2012

Clarence the Hotspot. Photo by Bartle Bogle Hegarty ?Ǭ© 2012


Controversy has been raised in the US on a homeless issue, but not one readers will have come across before - using rough sleepers as 4G wifi hotspots!

The idea came from a New York advertising agency, who premiered their innovation at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, by employing 13 rough sleepers from a local shelter to act as walking wireless internet providers. Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty developed the idea and launched the scheme at the festival in March. The ‘hotspots’ - Clarence is pictured - were paid for their day’s work, as well as given a share of the wifi they sold.

The plan had been to then expand the project into other cities, such as New York, in a bid to replace dependency on street newspapers in the digital age. The scheme saw the volunteers carrying small WiFi devices, which produced the broadband, whilst sporting t-shirts saying, “I’m [name], 4G hotspot.”

However, Bartle Bogle Hegarty hadn’t anticipated the outrage expressed by some media, who saw this move as exploitative of those involved, although that view wasn’t shared by those participating.

Soon after its launch, and a flurry of mixed coverage online and in print, the agency announced that it wouldn’t continue after the trial period during the festival. Speaking to the New York Post, Emma Cookson of Bartle Bogle Hegarty said, “we have no definite, specific future plans yet, in New York City or elsewhere. This was an initial trial program.

“We are now listening carefully to the high level of feedback, trying to learn and respond, and we will then consider what is appropriate to do next.”


April 2012



Street Shield 28: White Van Man

Altogether now

No privacy at housing centre

From living on the streets to living out his dreams

Woman?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s foot set alight by homeless man

Social exclusion and conflicting agendas

Becoming invisible, part II

Anti-Commonwealth Games campaigners launch Poverty Olympics

Social Impact Bonds

Film tackles homeless stigma

Increase in council homes recorded...

Young musicians rock on


Cambridge murderer jailed

Princess Beatrice hostel: the story so far

Homeless heritage dig

Street Heat: De Niro undercover

Cash seized from criminals used to help Scottish homeless

Charities join forces to house the homeless

People as 4G hotspots

Pavement injustice

Suits for success


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