Sharing Cities Magazine - November 2017

Author: Sharing Cities Alliance

Date of publish: November 2017

What's the main topic of this magazine?

A crucial piece for the sharing economy to be such a success are consumers, but, up until what extent there are frameworks providing them a safe space to operate? What is the level of protection they can appeal to? Another relating issue is how to preserve market fairness.

Key findings:

  • Consumers have always traditionally enjoyed certain levels of protection from those providing them any kind of service (from hotels to restaurants to traditional taxies). With the sharing economy, the most common system to evaluate (post-experience) is through the reviews system. Nevertheless, this can only happen once the consumer has already had the experience, which is still a tricky issue to solve for the platforms, some of which remove a provider with large negative feedback.
  • Market fairness is a tricky arena as well, as these emerging platforms can be misused and providers that do no hold the required licenses for certain activities (such as alcohol licenses for example) can keep on participating in the system. Governments play a crucial role here, as to establish new adaptive regulations to ensure that nothing is done out of the law. 
  • Changes in urban mobility, learnings from the case of Washington D.C, city which is quickly adapting and has created a five steps approach to deal with the amounts of cars on their streets: leveraging data, creation of a digital platform, pilot transportation as a service, promotion of electric vehicles and infrastructure and preparation for autonomous vehicles. 
  • Interview with professor Arun Sundarajan, who explained that in order to properly protect costumers, there is the need to tackle each sector individually, so a better understanding is possible and hence accurary can be guaranteed.
  • Interview with Arnould van Waes from the Innovation Researcher at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University about the emergence of bike sharing systems in cities.

"Why do consumers participate in the sharing & platform economy? How can we ensure equal treatment and access for consumers? And how can we preserve market fairness for traditional businesses? In this magazine we will touch upon these questions to create a better understanding of how the sharing & platform economy affects consumer protection and competition and how (local) governments can respond appropriately."

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