Going Pro

Hacking for the Homeless

Going Socially Responsible with REO3

Steph Piper

Issue 29, December 2019

When e-waste, the community, and hackers come together, we get exciting new initiatives like REO3.

Based in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, REO3 is a new business aiming to combine social and environmental good. Greg Geering, the project lead, is working towards building a self-sufficient company selling refurbished e-waste while employing some of our communities most vulnerable to provide work and technical skill training. He’s also working on community projects for the homeless, including building functional, RFID lockers for deployment within Brisbane service providers.

Meet the Team:



Level 1 / 19 Merivale St South Brisbane, Australia

  • Manages E-Waste collection
  • greg.geering@reo3.com
  • Manages sales and support
  • chris.ashford@reo3.com
  • Handles other enquiries
  • lenny.g@reo3.com

After a rough patch years before, Greg found himself on the street. Through this experience, he found others like him in a similar position who had great skills and passions. While traditional ‘homeless help’ initiatives gave away blankets and food, he could see gaps in the way help was given. When given the opportunity, there were people living on the street who wanted to get back on their feet through meaningful work. When you’re learning new skills in tech, keeping yourself busy through work you’re excited about, and getting paid for it, vices like gambling, alcohol and drugs lose their grip.

RFID locker prototype for the homeless.

The REO3 project began through inspiration at the Brisbane Hackerspace and Substation 33, an e-waste recycling space. Through the collaboration of these spaces and with the Brisbane Tool Library and Blind Eye, a homeless church initiative, the project came together.

As well as providing employment through e-waste refurbishment, the REO3 team is working on community projects like creating RFID lockers for the homeless.

"It’s important that our most vulnerable are given opportunities to help themselves while also being treated with dignity and respect. With paid work, they can re-gain their independence"

- Greg Geering

The aim of this project is to pay and upskill homeless people to build the lockers so that each piece of the project has value to the community. So far, the locker prototype has come together with a Raspberry Pi, three Arduinos and an RFID access system. The aim is for users to be able to use a GO Card or other system to be able to access the locker, store their items and charge their devices. Currently the prototype uses 50% e-waste, but ideally, the finished versions will be built with as much e-waste and upcycled goods as possible.

Greg showing just some of the upcycled e-waste for sale.

In future, they’d like to build sleep pods to give more warmth, comfort and privacy in sleeping rough. REO3 aims to be fully self-funded and sustainable rather than relying on government grants.

REO3 has desktop computers, laptops, servers, tablets and more if you’d like to purchase upcycled e-waste.

If you’d like to get involved, you can visit REO3 in Brisbane and contact Greg at greg.geering@reo3.com. They are currently looking for software and security developers to finalise the locker project prototype, and a new space to move into.

For more information, visit www.reo3.com