FreeHoc provides a service that allows its users to recycle their unwanted items by connecting them with other users who want or need them. is a project that has global scope. It uses standard separate newsgroups for each geographical area (e.g Bristol, Bath). This simple approach has created a huge accessible user-base, but has some deficiency's:

  • Users have to check their groups/emails multiple times a day, every day, to respond quickly enough to acquire the item.
  • If you are on the borderline between 2 locations (e.g. Bristol, Bath), then you have to monitor 2 groups or more.
  • Only accessible via web and email.
  • No way of knowing the reliability of the people making offer on your item - will they show?

FreeHoc is a service that dispense with the archaic newsgroup approach and provides a platform to:

  1. Users can place/offer items on a digital map. (This data could be auto aggregated over there twitter , facebook, etc)
  2. Registered users setup a list of what they are after "bike tire", "sofa", etc with a radius of how far they are willing to travel to get them.
  3. When a "sofa" becomes available within that catchment search area, the user gets notified with an SMS, email, MSN message, a landline phone call from a robot, etc. "sofa available in xxx. Send a request?".
  4. The owner of the item can then see a list of requests for an item (along with previous user feedback. Have they not shown to collect an item? have they been abusive to others?)
  5. On collection the users can leave mutual feedback

The platform could theoretically be driven completely via SMS without the need for a web interface.

Because the core principle is ITEM + LOCATION we can inject data from various sources. Elliot Long is creating , a service hawking and processing Yahoo freecycle groups and displaying that data in a manageable way. We successfully prototyped live data from free-minder injecting real item and location data into FreeHoc during the hActivate weekend. This is proof of concept that regardless of what existing systems could be in place in a variety of countrys/areas, item and location data could be aggregated into FreeHoc.

FreeHoc is a simple concept that can take advantage of the existing freecycle networks to provide an active service for pushing SMS alerts to the right people. User feedback completes the circle of communication to foster a reliable sharing community.

Ideas for taking this project forward

Putting physical items on a map is the same principle as putting skills and services on a map. e.g. "I have skills in agriculture I am here" and "I need someone with agriculture skills, alert me if they are nearby my town".

Regardless of developed or developing nations, the principle is the same.

The core system could have a range of plugins created for it:

Input Plugins:

  • Yahoo Group Readers
  • Craigs List

Interface Plugings:

Not everyone has an Internet connection or a desktop computer.

  • SMS interface
  • Landline phone interface (using an phone server) [developing nations might have 1 landline phone in a village]
  • Mobile apps (iPhone, android)
  • Standard web 2.0 interface

Aggregation Plugings : Auto aggregation of offers via:

  • twitter
  • Facebook
  • Back to yahoo groups (prototype created at hActivate back to free-minder)
  • Local community boards.

Estimated costs for taking this project forward

Core system is very simple and an API could be developed reasonably quickly. The database and server structured could be made to be reasonable scalebale very quickly as the base data store is so simple.

Additional plugin types will take time and expertise to develop

About the data used for this project imported with free-minder (By Elliot Long)

We didn't want to post the a public git repository because it have our BlueVia oAuth private keys in it. Repository access can be given on request.

use the username 'test' if you want to log into the test site


  • Greg Miell (
  • Allan Callaghan (
  • Greg Mackelden (
  • Elliot Long (

Project URL:

Created at


Flickr Photos

Screenshot-FreeHoc - Chromium

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