Posted by & filed under ethics, exam2012A, WI-Fi.

Description: Emma Cookson says her company believes the “homeless hotspots” idea allows them to make money and connect with others.

Source: cnn .com

Date: March 13, 2012

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you feel that using homeless for hotspots is an appropriate thing to do?  Why? Or Why Not?
  2. What is the biggest downside of using the homeless for hotspots?

23 Responses to “Using Homeless as Hotspots for Wi-Fi”

  1. Paige Magnussen

    I think this is a very interesting marketing approach. As the woman promoting the business in the video said they were building on the marketing strategy of allowing homeless people to sell news paper. Yes we are in a media generation and everything is technology so it only makes sense to progress this idea. Im not sure how it works, or how the homeless people of that are responding to it but from what i heard in the video i actually like the idea. It allows homeless people that want to work, the opportunity to work. And the video said all the money goes directly to the homeless people. I think what i liked most about it was it allows the homeless people to have contact and communication with other people on the streets passing them by. First of all this starts to reduce any stereotypes we have about homeless people and turns passing them by into a positive experience. Second of all it allows the homeless people to build on their communication skills, it provides them with an opportunity to tell their stories to others, and i mean you never know who will be passing these people. This could lead to allot of opportunities if it catches on.

  2. Lesley

    I think its fine. The program money is going directly to these homeless people which means they’re working. Its better than begging for money and making them feel insignificant. Its earning money which gives them a sense of purpose and positive attitudes. We are in the digital age now, and it is good for interaction in a positive manner with these homeless people. The downside could possibly be that some may find it exploitive…but i don’t agree with that. I think that allowing them to earn money and help the public is a great idea. I’m sure it will be a huge issue to many groups that feel unethical.

  3. Ashley O'Donnell

    At first glance of the title, the entire idea seems as the report claims tasteless and dehumanizing but after hearing the report the entire idea does sound appropriate and beneficial to the homeless. Nobody is forcing these homeless people to participate in this activity and it is generating money for these people to live a life without poverty. Therefore, I think the idea of using the homeless as hotspots is the opposite of tasteless and dehumanizing and it is a humanitarian act. This business idea could be implemented easily and could be using people that are financially okay as hotspots instead of people that really need the cash. Also, the fact the one hundred percent of the proceeds are going to the homeless people is another aspect that makes this business idea so great. Overall, I think the use of homeless for hotspots is not only a great business idea but also a way to help those in need.
    The downside to using homeless for hotspots is the ability for it to catch on. A lot of people don’t want to associate themselves with homeless people and will do their best to avoid interacting with them. Therefore, this could reduce the amount of cash entering the business ultimately reducing the cash the homeless could receive.

  4. Nichelle

    After watching the video I definitely had a different perspective from when I had simply just read the title alone. Homeless as Hotspots first made me question exploitation which seemed to be exactly where the clip started. I think this idea is very intriguing and is by far a unique approach to encouraging homeless individuals to get out and have the opportunity to work. Of course there are people that are quick to judge homeless people and will constantly suggest that they simply need jobs – but it isn’t as easy as we all think. I have witnessed first-hand homeless individuals who clean themselves up and try to enter the work force, only to be denied because of their lack of experience, and sadly their personal appearance. Allowing these individuals the chance to enter a work field, and the fact that 100% of the money goes directly to them, I truly believe this to be a great concept. The only downsides I could envision with Homeless as Hotspots would be the individuals who believe this to be exploitative. Also like I said earlier, people can be quick to judge, and many people might rather go to a business with wi-fi, instead of associating with them. It is unfortunate, but not everyone thinks the same or acts the same. 🙁

  5. Tim Anderson

    The issues surrounding homelessness have been part of public debate for a long time. There are organizations that are devoted to helping the homeless in some way. They will often feed them and give them shelter. But do organization has yet come up with an idea to use the homeless to turn a profit. Do I feel that using homeless as human hotspots is an appropriate thing to do? I don’t feel it is appropriate because, as with any new business endeavor, the motivation is to earn a buck, not to help out an often desperately needy demographic of society. This company want’s to make you think that they are helping the homeless make a living, but in reality the homeless person is earning less than minimum wage and there is no importunity for advancement. Once a hotspot always a hotspot. And do we really believe that people using the hotspot are going to talk to the homeless person? Most people will look down on them as the ‘scum’ of society because we are an elitist society.
    I would only be for this idea if the company paid the homeless hotspot a wage that was respectable, one that would care for the basic need of the person (i.e. shelter, food, clothing) and gave them training so that in a couple years they could move on to bigger and better things. Isn’t that what America is all about? Not keeping people in certain jobs because we need someone to do the jobs we don’t want to do, and so we end up with a group of people in our society that are equivalent to the untouchables in India. Business in North America and around the world has a tolerance for human suffering and abuse so that the bottom line is acceptably high.

  6. Jay Retzlaff

    I believe that this idea for a homeless hotspot is an appropriate thing to and is not tasteless at all. The only aspect that may be seen as not that appropriate is the name of it. Other than that I believe that this is a great idea. With this campaign it will give some homeless people the opportunity to make some money which can have a positive affect on their lives. No one is forcing them to do this so if some homeless people think it is tasteless then they do not have to do it. The biggest downside of using the homeless for hotspots would have to be the process of getting them on board with the idea and to be faithful to the company. By faithful i mean not to sell the device that they are given for the hotspot. If they can do that then this project will be great.

  7. Linli He

    Using homeless people as Wi-Fi hotspots is attracting controversy among technology trendsetters in the United States. People were debating over whether the BBH organization was helping or misusing homeless people. I personally think it is an appropriate thing, and I may label this event as “charitable experiment”. It raise awareness by giving homeless people a way to engage with mainstream society and talk to others, and those homeless people who participated this event can also get $20 per day. This type of project seems to me be an excellent way of helping the homeless. In the video, the manager of BBH organization said all the money goes directly to the homeless people, and they are just offering them job, and giving them a way to support themselves. Beside this, those homeless people can affirm their self-values, and realize self-awarenesses. They interact with people, the public becomes aware of the needs of the community between the homeless. It is also a opportunity for other people to break stereotypes of the homeless. Each of the homeless individuals is not forced to do this; they make a choice to participate. Personally, I don’t see this as exploitative, and it gives a good interaction among all types people in the society.

  8. Ford

    I think that using homeless people for hot spots is a great idea. Like she said in the video it is like they are selling newspapers like we all have seen happen when you are out and about in the city. It’s not like these people are being taken advantage of in any way. They have fully volunteered to be a part of this idea. The homeless people involved seem to enjoy being a hot spot. They interact with people instead of being ignored and they feel like they are a part of something when they are doing something active with their day. I think that the biggest downfall to using homeless people as hotspots is that they might not be reliable and this could be putting money in their pockets to support addictions they might have that might have been the reason they ended up on the street in the first place. Not saying that all homeless people are addicts but this could enhance the symptoms if that were the case. This is somewhat of a bias question because if only focuses on the negative sides of it. What about how this could help the people by giving them money so they can survive or support their families.

  9. Rachael Brown

    It is hard to say, given the amount of data from the video, whether using homeless for hotspots is an appropriate thing to do. Obviously, there are many arguments for and against this approach to increasing cellular data coverage. However, from the information I have gathered, I do not think using the homeless for hotspots is appropriate. I think it is inappropriate because it encourages homeless people to maintain their status as homeless. It also calls into question, what these homeless people will do with the money they collect from the fees/donations associated with accessing their wireless network. Sadly, many homeless people are homeless for complicated reasons to do with alcohol and drug addictions. Are these donations feeding their drug addictions, or is there some kind of drug testing and screening process that each homeless individual has to take before becoming a part of the “hotspot”? In my opinion, instead of using the homeless to provide wireless hotspots, the cellular companies should provide better coverage through their networks. This should be done in a way that doesn’t create public eye sores… like a bunch of homeless people standing around everywhere to provide Internet access.

  10. Brittney Rainforth

    To be honest, I am on the fence in regards to whether or not the homeless are being used as hotspots. On the one hand, it seems as though companies are degrading the homeless by making them into objects instead of people. These companies seem to see the homeless as a resource they can exploit to promote their product. Ethically this is wrong. However, on the other hand, this tactic is very interesting. It seems as though the homeless are happy with promoting the hotspots as themselves because they are earning money. Which is something that the homeless struggle to do. So, technically speaking these companies are giving the homeless a job where they can earn money for themselves. So in this respect, it seems like a good idea. I guess I’m just skeptical of where these companies stand in regards to how they see the homeless. Do they see them as a resource, or an extension of their employees?
    One of the biggest downsides for using the homeless as hotspots is the negative reputation the homeless have. Many view the homeless as dirty, and lazy. Therefore, many people try to avoid the homeless as much as they can. This is the opposite of what using the homeless for hotspots is trying to do – they want to get people closer. It is kind of counterproductive.

  11. Kelsey Roberts

    Quite personally I’m not sure how anyone could ethically argue that this isn’t a good cause. While the title “Using Homeless as Hotspot for WiFi” generates an immediate thought of some mistreatment of those less fortunate the video segment more than makes up for its uncharacteristic title. As mentioned in the video, homeless have previously sold newspaper to people on the streets and on public transit, so why not provide them with the opportunity to join the technology boom and earn a profit for them selves. Many homeless individuals do not choose to be in their current situations, and if given the chance to work, would take it. In my opinion this is the perfect opportunity for those individuals to take a step towards change in their lives, while earning some money. Furthermore, these individuals have chose to participate in this opportunity on a purely volunteer basis, so it becomes obvious that they too see this as a positive chance. I believe this is a great idea, and with the help of donations from society it can will only continue to grow.

  12. Sagrika

    I think using homeless as hotspots for Wi-Fi is a pretty good idea. This way the homeless are able to get a job, they are able to connect with the people, have conversations when usually they are just ignored. This is a way which is building them mentally and financially and could possibly open doors for future opportunities that they never could have gotten otherwise. The best part I thought was that the money was going straight to the homeless without any cuts. So hundred percent of the income was going directly to them. This idea might have taken people by surprise and critiqued on and that is because it a fairly new concept and people have not experienced anything like this before but that does not make it a bad idea at all. If this is being used for the personal development of the people who are usually non-existent to the rest of the people then I think there should be more concepts like this. The only downfall I think could be the homeless using the money on things that would not promote their development. Those things might be drugs, alcohol and they might just be serving their addiction.

  13. Tuan Tran

    I feel that using homeless for hotspot is a great idea. However I do think it is exploiting the homeless and taking advantage of their situation for the betterment of whoever is using the idea but in the long run as we all adapt to the idea, I could see that it is an appropriate thing to do because not only the idea allows the homeless people to work and make money but I think most importantly the idea enabling the homeless to connect with others. We all see it and most of us do it, ignored them when we see homeless people because they most often or not they only asking for spear change. What is the biggest downside of using the homeless for hotspots? I think some of the downside could be members of the public who are not homeless and other who use the ideas for fraudulent activities. Other downside that I could see is that everywhere I go; I will see more and more people standing on the street advertisement of something. Furthermore, this could become a big problem for high traffic areas because of the distraction and loitering to the public.

  14. Laura

    Using homeless people as hotspots is appropriate as long as they agree to do it, and are in some way benefiting from it. Obviously, if the company were to just tag homeless people with wifi hot spots that would be very wrong, but from the sounds of it, they are honestly trying to help the homeless. These people have obviously fallen on hard times, and it seems to me that there is more pride and less shame in selling wifi to strangers then begging for change or collecting bottles. It seems like a nice way to give the homeless people a moral boost, as well as an economical one. I’d say that the biggest downside to using homeless people as hotspots would be theft issues. The people providing the wifi technology to the homeless run the risk of having their equipment stolen, damaged, or lost. The homeless people selling the wifi are also theft targets, as they’re accepting cash for their services. It is also unclear as to what the homeless people are using this money for. If it’s providing them with food, and shelter, or perhaps a means to better themselves, and get permanent housing then it is a positive thing, however, it is not impossible that they could be using that same money for less positive things.

  15. M

    This is quite a new approach to getting the homeless population in to the workforce and getting them involved in society. If they are really getting as much out of the program as the women says then this is not inappropriate at all. Giving them an opportunity to make money and them have this connectivity with people is legitimate way to entice the homeless to join the work force. I also liked how the idea had started off of the homeless selling newspapers to make money and since now we are in a more technological age this is her new version of the old ways for selling newspapers. If this lady really is all non profit which I find hard to believe but she says it is run through the shelter anyways so it is already going to be incorporated with the homeless help in place. I can see potential downsides of these being potential harassment from both sides, they really do not go into much detail regarding what the homeless people are actually doing while they are these “wi fi hotspot” but there is always a possibility of some conflict arising between the public and the person working as there is conflicts that arise in any service industry position.

  16. Cole

    I feel that this idea of homeless hotspot is a great idea and is not tasteless and dehumanizing at all. The homeless people are not forced to do this. It is a way for them to make money and interact with people. It gives them a sense of purpose and not feel insignificant. The only downside is that some people will see it as exploitive and taking advantage of the homeless which in my opinion they are not. It is a way that helps everyone and helps get the homeless back on their feet.

  17. Patrick

    I think that using homeless people as Wi-Fi hot spots it totally appropriate, but with some conditions. These conditions are that the homeless people benefit from providing themselves as moving hot spots. This benefit can be monetary, which I think that they were getting in donation and fees, or other benefits, which are things like personal interactions which I think that they are getting by talking to people when they are being hot spots. I think that it is a great idea to let the homeless people to make some money and interact with people. The problem that they many people may see with allowing these homeless people to be wi-fi hot spot is that it is unethical or makes people look down on them. Other possible reasons that people may think that this is a downside is that wi-fi hot spots are probably a little pricy to purchase and people may attack the homeless person with the hot spot and steal them. Also it may be a problem if they only are able to have a certain amount of people to wear these devices. It may make a conflict between homeless people an they may fight over the privlege of being hot spots.

  18. JB

    In a way, using the homeless for hotspots is a good idea because they do earn a bit of an income, as the clip mentioned they get to keep all the proceeds of what they sell, and maybe, you never know, it might help them get back on their feet and enter back into life. On the other hand, as was mentioned in a previous comment, the homeless may be homeless because of drug or alcohol addictions and using them this way may just fuel their addictions and get them into a worse situation then they were previously. Personally if a homeless person approached me trying to sell anything I would walk away because I would not trust them and would not trust what they were selling because you don’t know how they attained this object. One of the biggest downsides of using homeless for hotspots would probably be the way people would react to the homeless approaching them, people may react just as I would. Maybe the homeless would start to act like a pesky sales person and not leave you alone then people would feel even more uncomfortable around these people and a homeless persons appearance does not help you to trust then very much.

  19. Lealand McCallum

    The title itself gives a kind of disrespectful, but once the video played and I understood what in fact the plan was that changed. I think this is a fantastic idea. The creation of jobs for those who have none. It’s a great community service to both the homeless men and women, as well as the people that need to use the hot spot.

    There definitely are not a whole lot of down sides to an idea like this. It gives people in need of a job, a job. As well as it gives people with devices that have a 4g connections the ability to reach the 4g network easier and with a much wider range. But unfortunately I can see people in the future finding a way to take advantage of a system like this, I’m not sure how someone would take advantage of this now. But I’m almost certain someone eventually will. But hopefully this will become a big thing and it will help a lot of people out.

  20. Billy Abesdris

    When Stan the hobo hobbles into your office and ask you for a job you could probably come up with hundreds of reasons why “it just will not work” but the biggest of these reasons is one of trust. You just wouldn’t be able to rely on that fat smelly man with the dodgy eye and greasy beard with bits of food stuck in it. It’s for this same reason that this idea is absolutely rediculose and simply an example of stupid news that stimulates social media hype and then profits off of advertiseing revenue. If the problem has not already become obvious let me clarify. A router capable of providing public WIFI and all the supporting equiptment is worth thousands of dollars and more importantly it is worth at least a half ounce of crack. Maybe even more if Stan’s dealer is having signal issues in his basement and has been looking to improve his signal quality. The homeless need rehabilitation befor reintegration. There is a reason they ended up where they are and it is foolish to think you can hand them expensive routers and expect them to be reliable employees. 

  21. Darren Fletcher

    I think its perfectly fine. The money is going directly to these homeless people which means they’re working and they are contributing to society. Its better than begging for money and making them feel insignificant. There is always someone out there who will say that it is exploiting but i don’t agree with that. And I’m sure people are just trying to keep them down so they can feel better about themselves. And I’m sure if all these facts are true they can only with when the repo man comes to take your house and car there will be other generous people who will help a lending hand to them so they can get a jump start out of the gutter. This is Darren and I am signing out.

  22. JC

    When I first read the title it seemed obvious that there was some company exploiting homeless people who didn’t know any better but looking at what is really going on it is clear that this is simply not the case. This is another instance where the media simply throws up some title that doesn’t accurately represent what is actually going on in order to attract attention. These otherwise unemployed people who would normally be begging or even stealing to get what they need are working a real job from which they are getting every penny of the profits, how is that exploitation. I would say that the biggest downside to this is that people may be less likely to listen to homeless people or believe what they have to say and so they may not be able to sell as much as they could. I definitely do not see a downside for the homeless people themselves. As was mentioned in the interview, these people are not only actively contributing into society by selling and making money but they are interacting with people who would normally never give them the time of day. Perhaps more importantly these people are being enabled to provide for themselves which is instrumental in getting them off the streets.

  23. B

    I think it is an appropriate thing to do simply because it is helping these people get work that normally wouldn’t have much work due to their circumstances. It might seem a little unethical to “exploit” them, when in fact, it’s helping them out. There really is nothing that is ethically wrong with the idea. I like how she compares it to the newspaper idea, and to the fact that we are in a new digital age. It is the exact same thing, just more modern. Probably the biggest downfall, which has been pointed out by most people on this blog, is the fact that it is a homeless person is the one selling the “product”. There is a huge trust factor involved in that, which if overcome, would provide a service to many people, and help out people who are in a bad situation. The benefits to this though, which have been pointed out, are not only that people can have hotspots for wi-fi almost anywhere, but also, it helps a lower class earn a dollar without having to degrade themselves.

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