Powering the Sharing Economy to Transform Lives

ZipCar, Lyft, Grab and the Prime Minister's Office of Singapore discuss the sharing economy and its role in the development of smart cities.

Jeremy Coward

May 16, 2017

4 Min Read
Image of CES 2017 session

To say plenty happened at CES 2017 that's likely to impact the future of IoT would be an understatement, with early January's headlines dominated by autonomous vehiclesanalytical beds and robots of all shapes and sizes.

Meanwhile one CES session you might have missed was “Powering the Sharing Economy to Transform Lives” — a session organized by IoT World 2017 and delivered by the event's speakers. This panel discussion featured:

Each panellist has extensive experience of the sharing economy in their own right, and combined offer a wide range of insight into the development this economy from public and private sector perspectives.

Public-private partnerships to help build smart cities

ZipCar is a prime example of a private sector entity that's looking to develop a smart city vision via the sharing economy. And while the private sector is often demonized in its public sector partnerships for being inhuman and driven purely by profits, Adrian Albus emphasized that the service economy companies like ZipCar help citizens live the lives that they want without having to own the assets, be it a car or a holiday villa.

“Partnering is really where the future of the sharing economy is going,” he predicted — a motto echoed in almost every area of IoT (particularly the smart home). He concluded that “partnerships with cities, and making a bespoke offering to the needs of citizens in each city” is how the sharing economy should contribute to the development of smart cities.

Chang added that the sharing economy benefits cities most when all of its companies operate in tandem to the benefit of residents. “Mobility and transportation will hopefully become an after-thought” she claimed, with this wide range of services consistently on offer.

How will your business models be impacted by advances in the automotive industry?

The prospect of up-and-coming autonomous vehicles excited Chang, who focused on how precious city space currently dedicated to parking and superfluous vehicles could be transformed into additional parks or housing. In the long term, Xin Wei Ngain anticipates that electric vehicles becoming commonplace will bring down costs for the end-user.

Albus' focus was on the potential impact these advances might have on the fleets of vehicles owned by the likes of ZipCar. The addition of autonomous vehicles could expand these fleets enormously. But while the IoT would do a lot to support the repair and maintenance of these vehicles, gathering these capabilities is an intimidating prospect due to the efforts and costs up front.

From the government's perspective, Karen Tay said extending autonomy to public transport could result in 100% shared mobility for entire populations. She added that while the sharing economy is already doing a lot to make transport more affordable, autonomous vehicles will have a far greater impact in this area. Freight and utility vehicles will also benefit — operating at peak hours less and less, freeing up valuable road space.

Finally, the panel touched on the implications for the elderly and disabled. Services like Lyft and Uber can already help these individuals get around their communities, but the panel seemed to agree that autonomous vehicles are the big game-changer.

What makes your organization unique, and how will you stay unique moving forward?

Prime Minister's Office of Singapore: With a single layer of government allowing for plenty of agility in terms of policy and technology development, Singapore is a country in an ideal position to test and scale up technologies to benefit every citizen, as demonstrated by their Smart Nation Platform.

Grab: Transport is not a “one size fits all” solution — it needs to be very tailored to specific needs and markets. Grab is “hyper-local”, offering many different vehicle types to suit a wide range of urban and rural areas, with an appreciation of the need for collaboration and service flexibility.

Lyft: They're already overseeing “the real-time matching of millions of people and rides” and analyzing the data collected — they know that in San Francisco over 50% of ride requests result in “triple matches” (three separate people seeking journeys from a similar place to a similar place) and are adapting their model off the back of this knowledge. By acting on new information like this every single day, they expect to be “at the tip of the spear” when it comes to the introduction of autonomous shared vehicle.

ZipCar: Albus asserted that ZipCar it is great at looking “both outside and inside its walls” for innovation. And as a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group — a company with massive reach, scale and resource — ZipCar plans to dominate distributed fleet management — currently the “primary operational challenge in car sharing” — and is apparently in poll position to do so.

— Jeremy Coward, Community Manager, IoT World News

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