http://www.bangstyle.com/2012/03/sxsw-homeless-wifi-hotspot/ This week, thousands of people are flocking to Austin, Texas, to participate in the nationâs biggest festival â South By Southwest. The music, interactive, and film festival attracts people from all over the world. The SXSW tech-start-ups got both creative and controversial this year. A marketing company decided to conduct an experiment using the cityâs homeless population as wireless hotspots in an effort to help festival goers stay connected during the high-traffic festival. Meet Clarence, one of SXSWâs 13 âHomeless Hotspots.â The middle-aged homeless man wears a shirt that reads: âIâm Clarence. A 4 G hotspot. SMS HH Clarence to 25827 for access.â Attendees can use PayPal to use Clarenceâs hotspot. This service is the brainchild of BBH Labs, a marketing agency that suggests that using homeless people as hotspots is the present-day answer to helping the nationâs homeless. For a $2 donation, people can use these human hotspots for 15 minutes. BBH partnered with a local homeless shelter to test-run their new idea at SXSW on Sunday. âAs you wonder (sic) between locations murmuring to your coworker about how your connection sucks and you canât download/stream/tweet/instagram/check-in, youâll notice strategically positioned individuals wearing âHomeless Hotspotâ T-shirts. These are homeless individuals in the Case Management Program at Front Steps Shelter. Theyâre carrying MiFi [short-range mobile wireless hotspots] devicesâ¦Weâre believers that providing a digital service will earn these individuals more money than a print commodity,â wrote Saneel Radia, BBH Labs director of innovation. But, using the homeless population to connect through expensive tech devices soon sparked outrage â and BBH is facing backlash over their idea. New York Times reporter David Gallagher blogged: âIt is a neat idea on a practical level, but also a little dystopian. When the infrastructure fails usâ¦ we turn human beings into infrastructure?â Critics took to Twitter to talk about the dehumanizing nature of the Homeless Hotspot scheme. The hashtag, â#homelesshotspot,â began trending on Sunday. BBH labs defends their idea â insisting that this is a charitable cause. BBH explains, âEach of the Hotspot Managers keeps all of the money they earn. The more they sell their own access, the more they as individuals make (itâs not a collected pot to be shared unless people choose to donate generally).â They also insist they are not profiting from the experiment in any way. Iâm sure all of the free press is helping, though.