Most of us can not imagine being homeless. The mere thought of it is enough to cause distress and dismay. And yet, it's a dire reality for thousands of people around the world.
In Germany, there were an estimated 860,000 homeless people in 2016 according to BAG W (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe e.V —Federal Association of Homeless Aid). This is no small number and is indicative of a big problem.
One company is trying to make a difference for homeless people by introducing a windproof and waterproof futuristic sleeping pod that the homeless can freely access. The company is called Ulmer Nest and it is located in the city of Ulm, 75 miles (120 km) west of Munich.
The pods were introduced on January 8, 2020 and if they prove useful and successful, they could be rolled out nationwide. Wouldn't that be neat?
The pods are made out of wood and steel and can fit up to two people for those who are not venturing out in the city alone. Ulmer Nest claims the cabins protect against the cold, wind, and humidity while also providing fresh air.
The pods also protect their users' privacy by not including any cameras. Instead, a motion sensor alerts social workers when the doors are opened. This helps social workers practice discretion when cleaning the pod after each use, and should the need arise, come to the aid of anyone requiring it.
The pods have a radio network that homeless people can use to get in touch with the team overseeing the cabins — radio was picked because of its accessibility advantage over mobile networks. They also have solar panels to provide heating from a renewable energy source.
Ulmer Nest hopes their pods will protect against frostbite during Germany's coldest nights and emphasizes that this initiative is not a replacement for a stay in a hostel or safe house, but rather an alternative and last option for those who really have nowhere else to go. Here's to hoping that these pods prove their usefulness soon and find a place for themselves on street corners around the world.