German City Sets Up Insulated Sleeping Pods For Homeless People

While the pandemic has proven to be devastating for many people, for homeless populations, it has taken an incredibly heavy toll.

Those without homes are exposed to COVID-19 and other illnesses at higher rates, and shelters, which are usually not socially distanced, can be more harmful than helpful. With all of those forces combined with unsafe weather conditions, death tolls are steadily rising.

But there is hope. Germany is setting a global example with their insulated sleeping pods which sound like they're straight from the future. These pods are offering homeless communities some solace during stormy weather.

The Ulmer Nest is making a difference.

On January 8, these pods were installed in the small German city of Ulmer, with a cluster of the pods being called the "Ulmer Nest."

Built with thermal insulation, these geometric sleeping pods have room to house up to two people.

A relatively simple design goes a long way with this project.

The cabins are built out of wood and steel, with a solar panel integrated into the outside frame in order to generate power and heat up the inside.

There is also enough space for users to store luggage or a pet if they have one, meaning nothing needs to be sacrificed or left out during a cold night.

Despite some delays, these pods are finally a reality.

Due to the pandemic, these pods didn't become available for a long time. In fact, even once they were rolled out, they had to be repositioned to socially distance as much as possible.

But now they're here, and they're offering Ulmer's homeless population an escape from the unforgiving temperatures.

These are both inventive and ethical.

The Ulmer Nests utilize solar panels for power, and are connected to the Ulmer LoRa-Wan-IoT wireless network.

The pods are made to lock for safety and there are no cameras. Safety and privacy seem to be primary concerns in the pods' designs, as well as temperature regulation.

The idea was first conceptualized in 2018 at request of the city.

The team behind the project was commissioned by the city of Ulmer to come up with a product that would protect the homeless population from the cold. The Nest was born just a few days later.

This is the second year they're running public tests, having made a number of refining changes to last year's prototype.

In an interview, one of the creators of the Nest, Florian, discussed some unexpected yet heartwarming reactions to the pods.

“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. [...] 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."

The team is looking to the future.

Florian went on to outline some of their hopes for the Nest, “We are still operating on a small-scale prototype level, and are looking into finding possible prospective user (cities) and ways of manufacturing bigger numbers of the Nests if there’s sufficient demand for it."

Ulmer is setting a powerful example.

People don't need to register or sign up to use a pod and there are no loopholes to discourage homeless people from accessing them. Each pod entrance has sensors which notify the Caritas Ulm-Alb-Donau charity association, as well as members of Ulmer Nest, that someone is currently sleeping in one.

That way, the pods are letting the right people know that there is someone in need inside of there, so they might be able to get in contact with them and offer even further assistance.

There are also charities and initiatives dedicated to helping with rolling out these pods, so hopefully it won't be long before the rest of the world has access to them.

Let us know what you think in the comments!