The concept of sharing is as old as human civilization. It has existed for centuries
but has recently attracted a lot of attention focused on the ways in which digital
technologies have opened avenues for sharing and collaboration. In cities, new
digital technologies are revolutionizing the ways in which we use transport, housing,
goods and other services – whether driven by economic or social reasons. Sharing
has also changed the way we work. The sharing economy has virtually disrupted
all sectors, creating a multitude of platform-based marketplaces that connect
individuals, enterprises and communities at a peer-to-peer level.
The sharing economy is making cities redefine land-use strategies, minimize their
costs, optimize public assets and collaborate with other actors (for-profits, nonprofits,
social enterprises, communities and other cities) in developing policies and
frameworks that encourage continued innovation in this area. This paper focuses
on the drivers of sharing in a city and how cities can embark on the sharing journey.
While citizens have reaped benefits from sharing, there have also been concerns
regarding trust, safety, security, social equality and regulatory challenges that will
have to be addressed as sharing becomes ubiquitous through these platforms.
We hope this paper will inspire cities to take a cue from our case studies and guide
future discussions on how cities share and collaborate in achieving their public
goals effectively and efficiently.
Chairman, Arup Group
The technology-enabled sharing economy has become a reality around the
world, particularly in cities where citizens and government leaders are embracing
innovation. It has also attracted interest from many stakeholders, notably
organizations aiming to exploit the potential of the new business models presented.
The emergence of digital platforms has enabled sharing on a scale that could not
have been achieved by offline mechanisms. While mobility and short-term rental
platforms have largely dominated this sector, opportunities in on-demand household
services and professional services are also on the rise. Money-lending platforms,
peer-to-peer insurance, loaner products, meal sharing and peer-to-peer learning are
some examples on the breadth of services now offered under the sharing economy.
Beyond economic reasons, several social and environmental motivators are driving
communities to behave collaboratively in sharing access to municipal spaces and other
civic assets. City governments are also sharing municipal equipment and collaborating
to provide municipal services, examples of which we have covered in this paper.
The benefits of sharing go beyond enhancing the use of assets. Sharing
encourages community interaction and can lead to greater social inclusion. The
rise in the number of digital sharing platforms encourages micro-entrepreneurship,
provides employment opportunities and improves digital literacy. However, the
fallout of sharing, if not properly regulated and monitored, can be safety incidents,
social inequality and concerns from traditional markets. Regulatory and tax
structures need to be revisited to address these concerns as sharing platforms
begin to scale across different sectors of the economy. At the same time,
developing a culture of sharing within cities to improve services with accountability
and transparency would go a long way in shaping the “sharing cities” of the future.
Global Cities and Local Government Sector Leader, PwC