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Solar powered pods provide sanctuary to homeless in Germany

Solar powered pods are offering rough sleepers an overnight sanctuary, as efforts to ‘start contact’ with the homeless community are boosted in the German city of Ulm.

The German city Ulm, located about 75 miles west of Munich, has built a series of state-of-the-art pods for its homeless community to sleep in.

Scattered throughout local parks and other areas known to be frequented by the city’s homeless population, the aptly named ‘Ulmer Nest’ is not only providing a place for rough sleepers to bed down in the cold winter months, but is also connecting its occupants with charities to establish solutions for the long term.

While the principle of the capsule is to shield the homeless from the wind and cold, as you can see from the pictures, the sophisticated structure of the unit goes far beyond just four walls and a roof.

Made from a combination of wood and steel, the Ulmer Nest is big enough to accommodate two people, and even has extra room for luggage, or a dog companion. To provide instant respite from the cold, the interior insulation is designed to minimise humidity and maximise warmth, and the bed is heated too.

The power to keep the capsule warm around the clock is generated by a solar panel on the exterior, which also controls a light to show whether or not the unit is occupied. On that front, a mechanism lock is used to fix the door in place, so whoever is inside will not have to contend with unwanted visitors either.

As well as getting a comfortable night’s sleep, users can connect to a dedicated low power wide area network (LPWA) to charge or operate any battery powered appliances they may have with them. Oh, the magic of renewable tech.

As you can imagine, the Ulmer Nest will likely become popular, and will certainly be put to immediate use. Facing one its harshest winters in recent history, Germany is opening up its underground stations and hostels to keep the nation’s homeless safe from the conditions.

sleep pod

To that end, the Ulmer Nest is designed to reach displaced individuals deemed most vulnerable – with severe mental health or physical conditions – and without the ability or foresight to seek out practical solutions.

Designed to ensure people’s protection first and foremost, the Ulmer Nest is deemed as a short-term solution for long-term gain.

Sensors in the door and interior have been installed to alert social workers to the presence of an occupant, and every morning aligning charities will be sent to initiate contact with the person and to discuss next steps for proper accommodation.

With cold winters sweeping all across Europe, the economic strife caused by the pandemic has turbo-charged the homeless crisis. The downtick of travel and tourism has at least allowed for some to be put up temporarily in hotels, but with hospitality resuming soon the mounting issue of homelessness will continue to persist. Suffice to say, innovation is key right now if we’re to take control.

Here’s to hoping the Ulmer Nest can eventually spread beyond the borders of Germany, and help rough sleepers to connect with the professional help they need everywhere.