April 21, 2014 By Michael Scott
Sharing and collaboration have long been a universal characteristic for cities. Centuries ago, money and other financial means of exchange didn’t exist. Thus human survival depended on cooperation, trading, and bartering.
Today, in many U.S. cities, an innovative, shared infrastructure is being erected, fueling a renaissance in how people live, work, and play. This new movement—both revolutionary and disruptive—dovetails the popularity of the book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, a bestseller by Rachel Botsman. It features ideas that promote civic connection, economic continuities of scale, and sustainable lifestyles. Once the concept takes hold, this fast-growing collaborative model promises to revolutionize urban systems and the delivery of goods and services to the general populous.
In the past 12 to 18 months, consumers and civic leaders have witnessed the proliferation of early stage companies in what’s being called the “collaborative economy." Popular new enterprises such as Lyft (ridesharing) and Zipcar (car-sharing) are sprouting up in hundreds of communities to provide cost-effective, convenient options to consumers craving flexibility.
Brad Segal is president of Progressive Urban Management Associates, a national leader in advancing downtown and community development. He believes that sharable assets in cities naturally grows out of significant changes in consumer behavior. “An entire section in our PUMA Global Trends Report explores the impact of the sharing economy on cities throughout the U.S.,” says Segal. “It’s an emerging trend that appears to be here to stay.”
The shared cities movement recently captured the attention of municipalities, as evidenced by the June 2013 Sharable Cities Resolution adopted at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The purpose of this resolution? To foster and encourage increased adoption of sharability within cities. This includes boosting awareness of the possibilities as well as addressing regulations that may hinder participation in the shared economy.