Shared Urbanity: Access over Ownership
ultramansk @ stock.adobe.com
The scenario Shared Urbanity refers to innovative activities fostering a shift within the current economic system, highlighting solutions that convert urban environments into hubs of technology and information.
Speaker and author Rachael Botsman has advocated, in the past few years, for the concept of a post-ownership society. An expert in the idea of trust, Botsman has argued for an economic model in which consumers would no longer require ownership, but prefer access as an alternative. In this sense, platforms such as Netflix, Uber, Airbnb revamped the way we watch movies, commute, and live.
The rise of such platforms mediating consumers and providers has turned into a strategic model to be applied anywhere —the acronym XaaS (everything as a service) summarizes this. Such a trend, therefore, encompasses not only the marketing of products and services but also governance and democracy as more urban solutions are developed after this format. Examples may range from a technologically-structured Bartering Platform, such as is the case of Swapabee, as well as business models such as Equity Crowdfunding, which makes it easier for the general population to directly invest funds in new ventures that, in exchange, offer a percentage of common stock in return, as proposed by startups such as Appfrica and AfriLabs.
Similarly, by subscribing to a Community Solar Billing program, dwellers no longer have to buy individual solar panels and cover the installation costs but benefit from a shared source of sustainable energy. One example can be found in the Ndolwane community, in Zimbabwe, where a recent project by Econet’s Ugesi Energy has provided a 100KW solar project for the population. Still, in order to make similar shared economy enterprises fully adopted by people, governments can use tax incentives such as the proposal of a Bike Commuting Tax Incentive.
By focusing on access over ownership, such enterprises can help mitigate social inequalities, though they alone are not capable of solving such a problem. The proposal of a Dynamic Redistributive Tax, for instance, could make the financial system fairer and give better support to vulnerable communities, which subsequently could also benefit from a network of Blockchain-based Chama that provide financial assistance to these people. Initiatives such as ChamaPesa seek to create a “social network of many Chama groups that can collaborate using strong digital records and a dedicated social messaging service for chamas.”
The exponential flow of initiatives combining human capital and technology produced an emergent way of generating value. With the help of the aforementioned tools, modern society found ways to meditate the value of its production power and reevaluate where its economic activity should be put into. As for now, we face the challenge to strengthen these novel economic frameworks as an effort to produce long-term results and not just fleeting sparkles of hope.