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5 Ways Public Services Can Use Shipping Containers

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If your business is in public services, you may have seen many businesses using shipping containers during the 2020 global pandemic to help expand or move their services to accommodate their customers. Public services faced several hurdles related to the coronavirus, including reduction in store capacity due to social distancing, closures and shut downs, and supply shortages.

These challenges are still being felt as we hit the middle of 2021, but there are opportunities that your public service business can use to keep your business running successfully. In this post, we’ll examine 5 ways that public services can use shipping containers, how they can benefit businesses within, and examples of businesses using them now.

5 Ways Public Services Can Use Shipping Containers

Educational facilities

The education sector was one of the industries that was hit hard during 2020’s coronavirus pandemic and saw global closures of K-12, universities, and colleges. School closures saw many children and parents having to deal with the challenges that were caused. Low-income families faced difficulties in their internet connections and speed, while others were faced with the inaccessibility of some students being able to get meals throughout the day.

Not only did this put a strain on families, but it put a strain on educators and facilities as well. Many education experts worried about students falling behind in their studies or hindering their development. In some areas around the world, many students are unable to receive their education because a school is too far from them.

For these school districts, shipping containers have been used from storage containers, science and technology labs, gym lockers, and even schools themselves. Developers of these properties used ISO steel containers in order to build in areas that were previously inaccessible by traditional construction, allowing students the ability to start or continue their education.

The DigiTruck in Tanzania, New York’s Bard College, ISDSI’s campus in Thailand, and the iDEA Technopark are just some examples of schools using containers to expand location and student expectations.


Training facilities

Having trained personnel within public services, especially those in emergency services, is crucial in making sure that their actions result in saving lives. These services require a specific skillset and extensive training to ensure expertise in the field. This is especially true of fire departments.

Lack of training for firefighters can result in death, not just to those in danger, but the firefighters themselves. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the total cost of damages for the 2020 wildfires were between $130-150 billion dollars. Training is critical, but can sometimes be challenging due to the nature of it; buying fire towers can be costly to fire departments, especially when these towers often have the same layout, which can give firefighters a disadvantage when coming across a variety of locations.

Custom Shipping Containers for the San Diego Fire Department

Fire training structures created using ISO steel shipping containers serve fire departments by giving personnel unique layouts to train. These include navigation through corridors, climbing stairs, or observing different aspects of fire. Our sister company, Fire Training Structures, creates and manufactures customized structures that can either be stationary or mobile, depending on what the fire department’s needs are.

These customized structures can be used to change the training scenarios, giving fire fighters the ability to fight fires in different environments, which creates better real world situations. Fire training containers also have the ability to be changed, which saves money for the department, instead of having to continually add towers to the budget.


Disaster Relief

As mentioned above, wildfires cause billions of dollars in damage on a yearly basis. Fire is just one of the many natural disasters that occur around the world and according to the World Health Organization, over 150 million people have been impacted by natural disasters.

For public services – those of emergency services, search & rescue, and fire departments – the destructive power of these disasters mean that help needs to come swiftly to aid victims. In the case of the coronavirus, the amount of people looking for help can overwhelm these services, like with hospitals.

In response to these disasters, many companies used shipping containers in order to extend or build damaged buildings. For instance, in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a non-profit organization was able to deliver a container hospital to replace the main children’s hospital which had been destroyed.

During the recent pandemic, hospitals and medical clinics were able to use shipping containers as additional ICUs, patient rooms, and even testing labs. This helped in treating not only patients suffering from COVID-19 but those patients who were being admitted for other ailments.



Public transportation isn’t just about how people get to and from their destination, it’s also about the buildings and areas that people use while waiting. A rider survey done in the Netherlands discovered that many of their travelers thought their waiting times 3x longer than what they actually were. Others felt unsafe at these stations, especially those that were smaller, and many stations in the country were unmanned by travel personnel and were desolate.

This created an unsafe environment for riders, something that can be felt in other areas outside of the Netherlands.

The country decided on using shipping containers to build a safer station, which ended up spreading to twenty other stations. These destination points give passengers more comfortability while waiting and the installation of lighting made the stations safer, especially for rural areas at night. Using containers helped to reduce repair or replacement of stops and benefited in giving the particular public service a better reputation.


Environmental protection

Protecting the environment has become a pursuit for many businesses and services. Being able to use sustainable materials not only helps to reduce harmful effects on the world, but in many cases can help reduce the costs associated with the material.

As we noted with educational facilities, some areas can’t use traditional construction due to the type of environment, while in the case of emergency services like fire departments, time is of the essence and lengthy building periods are unwanted.

That’s what makes using shipping containers a great alternative for traditional building methods.

ISO steel containers are environmentally friendly and can help to reduce the cost of building. Their portability makes them advantageous to public services like education or emergency, as it means they can be moved to various locations. And because shipping containers are being repurposed or recycled, this reduce waste produced when melted down.

Southwest Mobile Storage helped both the Arizona and Oklahoma Departments of Environmental Quality with modified containers to help with air monitoring.

Shipping containers have evolved from just being used for transport and can be used in a variety of fashions that help yours and other public service businesses manage the uncertainty of the current and upcoming years. Now that you’ve seen how public services are using shipping containers, discover how modified containers are furthering business success and promotion.

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