United Kingdom

Sleep pods to shelter homeless people in the winter are installed in German city

Futuristic insulated sleep pods have been installed in a German city to shelter homeless people on cold winter nights.  

The German city of Ulm, 75 miles west of Munich, introduced these small shelters, dubbed 'Ulmer Nest', on 8 January in parks and at other places where homeless people sleep, a city spokesman said.  

The wood and steel cabins provide protection against the cold, wind and humidity, and they're equipped with thermal insulation. They guarantee fresh air circulation and can accommodate a maximum of two sleepers. 

This futuristic-looking capsule is designed to save the lives of vulnerable homeless people during cold temperatures

The UlmerNest is an automated sleeping pod that provides shelter for homeless people in the winter to prevent them from freezing to death

The capsules have hi-tech features including internet connectivity to alert social workers to an occupant's presence

From the initiative's official Facebook page, they said they were delayed installling the structures this year, but that they were available to make them available 'just in time for the really cold nights.

'Likewise, their managers reported that the nests have received some improvements and a redesign to ensure long-term use.  

'We hope with the Ulmer Nests to offer some protection and security to those who need it most in Ulm,' they wrote.

The capsules, which were first made available for rough sleepers two years ago, now offer improved interior thermal insulation that guarantees less humidity and more heat.

Like a taxi, a light on means the pod is free, while the thermally-insulated interior has room for luggage and even a dog companion

The UlmerNest is designed for homeless people who may not be able to utilise other options for overnight shelter

The developers explain: 'There are some other options and facilities for the homeless in almost every city in Germany, like train stations that will be opened as soon as the temperature falls below a certain point or specific hostels for the homeless but there is still some necessity for a low-threshold service like this'

In addition, the capsules now come equipped with solar panels and are connected to a radio network that allows their occupants to communicate without depending on mobile networks. The closing and locking mechanism has been improved and allows better ease of use. 

Flaco Pross, the designer of the capsule, explained that users of the pod don't need to fill in any paperwork or registration to check-in. 

The nest is equipped with a motion sensor that alerts a team of social workers when the access hatch opens and closes. 

They add: 'It is very important to understand that the concept of the UlmerNest was created for those who won't or can't make us of these other options provided by cities because of their mental conditions or for other reasons

The Caritas Ulm-Alb-Donau charity association, or members of Ulmer Nest, are then notified that someone has stayed in the pod for the night. The following day, the cabin is visited by one of the organisations to ensure the cabin is empty and to invite the user to go to engage with the city's homelessness service.  

There are no cameras inside the capsule, allowing the user to remain anonymous. 

If the pods are damaged during the night, the Caritas foundation will repair or clean it in order for it to be used the following night. 

Pross said the pods offer rough sleepers a temporary sanctuary, while also allowing charities to maintain and start contact with the city's homeless population and provide them help. 

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