The Ulmer Nest team, from the German city of Ulm, has come with this emergency shelter for the homeless that can house up to two people and a furry friend of the user.
Homelessness is an ongoing issue all around the world. While political leaders grapple to find a permanent solution to this age-old problem, non-profits and citizens have been doing their bit to help tackle it as well. Often better than the government. But in collaboration, it would really do wonders for the homeless people who are forced to spend cold winter nights braving the biting frost which time and again has resulted in many deaths. This German city has come up with a solution, although temporary, in the form of futuristic sleeping pods that will protect homeless people from the harsh weather conditions.
The German city of Ulm wanted to provide the homeless with emergency shelter at night, particularly during the winter when it can get rough. For this purpose, a team of six people comprising of entrepreneurs and technical experts was assembled to develop a solution to this problem. After research and analysis, the team came up with the first sleeping pod in 2018. They worked around "one main insight" which was that there were already other ways of cold protection in Ulm, but these were not accessible for the specific group of people we were targeting.
The project website listed the main reason why warm shelters were not accessible to many: The reasons ranged from mental issues preventing them being in a cramped room with a lot of other people, the fear of crime and violence, but also a lot of regulations and laws. For example, dogs are not allowed to the regular shelters, intoxicated people neither, nor people who cannot prove their formal residence in the city. After an initial run last year with the prototype, and with improvements to the design, the team came up with the Ulmer Nest. These nests are made from wood and steel. They are windproof and waterproof. They're designed to keep up to two people protected from the rain, frost, and humidity reported BBC.
The team has also stressed that the capsules are not an alternative to staying in proper overnight accommodations since the city of Ulm can reach very low temperatures. The sleep pods are also fitted with solar panels. They even come complete with enough room to house the users' belongings and a furry friend. Speaking to Bored Panda, Florian one of the members of the Ulmer Nest team stated, “For this winter, we modified details of our door in an effort to improve usability both for the people sleeping in the Nests and the Social Workers checking in on them." This means there are no cameras fitted in the pods to respect the inhabitant's privacy but the doors come with a motion sensor that alerts a social worker about the pod's usage allowing them to then clean it or provide assistance.
The pods will be run with the help of the local charity, Caritas Ulm-Alb-Donau, which will also undertake any repair that the pods may need. Florian added, "Also, we spent a good deal of time improving insulation and climate management, to be able to keep humidity and temperature at the best possible levels while operating on a limited budget of energy. Related to this, we also improved the connected-ness of the Nests by integrating them into the Ulm city’s own wireless IoT network.” People who want to use the pod don't need to fill in any paperwork or registration to check-in, Flaco Pross, the designer of the capsule, explained to the Daily Mail.
This project is still rolling-out on a small scale currently. The team is hoping to find prospective user cities to start producing the pods on a larger scale. “We’ve even seen some effects that we didn’t dream of, like neighbors providing the overnight guests with hot tea in the morning and such. Also, city officials were always very supportive and positive about the project, which helped us a lot. And then there’s a lot of those small moments when working on the Nests out in the city, and people come up to say thank you (homeless and not homeless alike). That also means a lot actually,” Florian said of the project being received positively.