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Collaborative Platforms and City Challenges

2nd November 2016

Four Observations from ShareLab's discussion on Cities 

On Nov 1st we attended the ShareLab conference in London. The event, hosted by our DSI4EU partner Nesta, brought together over 200 policymakers, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers to better understand how public services, civil society and the private sector can engage with collaborative platforms for good.

One particular session relevant to our work on Digital Social Innovation focused on the opportunities and challenges for cities in using collaborative platforms. Four lessons we took away from the presentations which discussed London, Kirklees, Amsterdam, Barcelona and the Fab City initiative were:

  •  The collaborative economy can help realise visions for our cities in the future. Whether by crowdsourcing solutions for housing shortages, or encouraging a maker revolution by sharing skills and equipment in Fab Labs, the collaborative economy can be intricately linked with a city’s wider objectives. There's a lot more to sharing than AirBnB. 
  • There’s nothing new about sharing, so don't be afraid. We only need to think about libraries, schools and hospitals to be reminded that resources are shared daily. However, technology is enabling different types of resources to be shared in new ways between previously unconnected people.
  •  Change isn’t limited to the marketplace. Instead, city authorities are using sharing economy initiatives as the ‘trojan horse for institutional change’ as they adapt to become more agile, and more open to experimentation.
  • How do we make it fair? The biggest challenge for platforms and policy makers is to broaden the appeal of the sharing economy, and ensure that the most vulnerable (and least tech savvy) are able to get the most benefit.

Here is the full video discussion (see below for speaker details):

Mara Balestrini, Director of Research, Ideas for Change

Finn Williams, Regeneration Area Manager, Greater London Authority

Liz Corbin, Researcher and Curator, Institute of Making, University College London

Femke Haccoû, Urban Innovation Officer, City of Amsterdam

Duggs Carre, Comoodle Project Manager, Kirklees Council

Boyd Cohen, Deputy Director of Research, EADA Business School Barcelona

Videos of other ShareLab sessions are available here.  

Picture: By Time Felce (Airwolfhound) (Leaf Cutter Ants - Butterflyworld) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



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