Winters are a challenge for homeless people to survive. In cases of prolonged extreme cold invasions, we witness the death of many helpless, homeless people. The city of Ulm in Germany demonstrates its social sensitivity in practice by designing, developing, and installing a futuristic shelter. These windproof and waterproof sleeping pods, known as Ulmer Nests, provide the homeless with emergency shelter at night, especially when temperatures are below zero.
Ulmer Nests are made of wood and steel, and each one can provide a protective shelter for up to two people against rain, strong wind, frost, and humidity, as well as ensure air circulation. They are equipped with solar panels and a set of sensors, which can monitor temperature, humidity, smoke, and carbon dioxide levels. The structure is protected against fire, as it bears an electronic verification system so those using it can lock the capsule from the inside.
Moreover, Ulmer Nests are connected to a radio network that allows their users to get in touch with the team overseeing the cabins. Nevertheless, privacy issues are taken seriously into account, as privacy is a fundamental human right. Therefore, no cameras are installed; instead, there is a motion sensor that informs social workers or Ulmer Nest members that someone spent the night in the pod. The day after, a volunteer is in charge of cleaning the pod for future use. However, it is highlighted that the capsules are not intended for permanent overnight stays.
“We are still operating on a small-scale prototype level and are looking into finding possible prospective users (cities) and ways of manufacturing bigger numbers of the Nests if there’s sufficient demand for it,” one of the Ulmer Nest team members told Bored Panda.
Until our society permanently solves the embarrassing matter of having homeless people, such temporary approaches provide a solution to a crucial social issue.