The role of technology in building the sharing city, one open platform at a time: Page 2 of 2

Wed, 2017-06-07 09:37 -- Adam Beck

And the third principle is the concept of the urban commons, where common assets (parks, places, vacant land) are stewarded together, to enable collaboration and experimentation. The city as a commons, and as an open platform that fosters social innovation and shared decision-making is the goal.

Beck: What does technology and data do for the sharing city?

Sharp: It’s an enabler. Technology is important, but must be of the 'open source' nature. The commons is a key guiding principle and if the tech is propriety, it tends to close down innovation and leads to crowding out. The world wide web is the best example of an open source platform. The largest transformation tool in modern history is an open source platform to catalyse innovation and prosperity.

Evolving the smart city as a shareable city has allowed start-ups to be engaged. It is allowing citizens and other stakeholders to have control over their own data, and collectively own and share the benefits. The City of Melbourne's open data platform is a great example of this.

Beck: What's your favourite application of technology and data in the sharing cities movement?

Sharp: I love what they have done in Barcelona, the BarCola process of using public engagement to develop policy proposals and technical guidelines for building commons-based sharing economy platforms. The Smart Citizen project is built using open hardware, it's a distributed city-wide sensing platform and a citizen science initiative.

Beck: What's the sharing cities outlook for Australia?

Sharp: It's positive. Cities are better understanding their role in the sharing economy, and how they can lead, rather than having to play catch up all the time. And this is important, because as cities shift from a role of playing catch up, and become facilitators and enablers of the sharing economy, we can realise some impactful outcomes.

So, if we can ensure the sharing economy is collaboration-led and people-centric, we are able to create sharing cities that encourages citizen innovation. And this is exciting.

Darren Sharp is Director of Social Surplus and part of an international team writing a book on Sharing Cities to be published by Shareable.net in August 2017.