FreeXchange - Bridging the digital divide for Freecycle communities. Open Source License: Simplified BSDProduction site: http://freexchange.heroku.comCode Repository: homewares recycle website, Freecycle, now available to those most in need via novel text message based interface. The hyper-local data featured on the Freecycle website has been available to the public for years. But it has one problem - it requires that people haveready access to a computer and to the web. For many people in need of free household items, this isnot the case. Although, most needy individuals have at least a basic, "feature-phone" capable of text messaging, and, occasional access to public libraries for web access when needed. Accordingly, FreeXchange provides a multi-faceted txt message interface for getting listings and following up on listings posted to Freecycle. Users of Freecycle no longer will need to sit by a computer with internet access 24x7 to be a first responder to a Freecycle listing. Instead, the FreeXchange system will push an SMS/text message to a user when a listing meeting a user's criteria appears, and can even automatically respond to the offeror via SMS/text message. In this way, people with limited internet access or ready access to a computer can engage with Freecycle and also be able to receive needed items. With FreeXchange, you can be sure that those folks most neediest for free items have EQUAL access to the Freecycle system.Simple, easy to enter command and prompt systemOnce the user has registered once online through the website, and set up a search, that user caninteract entirely with FreeXchange via text.If an item matching the search criteria the user entered, is found on Freecycle, the user is immediatelyemailed a simple message, for example, assuming the user has entered in the search term glue: "You have 1 result for 'glue': ID:(12) Stitchless Sewing Glue (Temescal)." The message tells the user that the item ID is 12. Then, the user need only text back #respond 12, and the FreeXchange system will automatically respondto the offeror with a message telling the offeror that the user is interested in the item, but that they only have a phone as a means of contact, so the offeror should contact the user at the user's specifiedphone number.Future Partnership with Freecycle for sustainabilityThe development team have been users of Freecycle over the past year, and greatly benefitted.The Freecycle community is one of sharing and leveraging technology to help others. Therefore, we believethat we could partner with Freecycle to ensure seamless and scalable interoperability with our site and theirs. FreeXchange is built using Ruby on Rails with a SQLite database in development. In production, it is hosted by Heroku at which uses a Postgreql database. We are using Tropo as our telephonyplatform. A scheduled rake command, runs every hour on our production server to check Freecycle for all of the searches that users have entered into the system.Because FreeXchange is built with Rails and Tropo, it is possible to extend the application to beinternationalized to suit individuals who do not speak English, and also implement a voice transcriptionfeature. For further information about the app or how to use it, please see our Wiki with our github repository:

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