A new type of smart vending machine has been developed by a Nelson-based company to dispense harm reduction supplies to vulnerable street populations.
In the next year, around 100 of these vending machines will be turned on in cities across Canada that are struggling with the ongoing toxic drug crisis and opioid epidemic. To help combat mounting drug deaths and the spread of blood-borne infections like HIV, the machines will contain Naloxone-kits, rapid tests for HIV, clean syringes and tools for testing drug supply. As well, the machines will stock some paid products, like deodorant or toothpaste.
Brad Pommen, founder of SMRT1 Technologies, said the accessibility to many support services for vulnerable community members was maimed through the pandemic, and agencies supporting drug users are continuing to struggle with a lack of funding.
The machines have been in use in five trial locations, including Nelson and Kamloops, B.C., but also across the country in New Brunswick, where the province is dealing with some of the highest amounts of needle-users per capita.
"People need supplies" - SMRT1 Technologies founder Brad Pommen tells KCR News about the launch of the vending machines: