The Un-sharing Economy?

Over the last 5 years we have seen an explosive growth of the sharing economy sharing, from AirBnb for housing, Uber for ride sharing, task rabbit for household jobs and maintenance needs, Rover for pet sitting, and everything in between. Arlington is a booming home to a number of these growing companies. Need an on demand private investigator? Try Trustify. Need to have something notarized in real time? Notarize has you covered. Lyft actually opened an office in Crystal City last year that also serves as an inspection station for their area drivers. Arlington is not new to the sharing economy market, in fact, it was the original test location for Zip Car.

In a sharing economy individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. What happens when this economic model faces a roadblock from government regulations? I attended a panel at SXSW, which talked about the impact that is had on a community when the shared economy model is faced with pushback. Specifically, they spoke out what happened last year when Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin because local officials passed legislation requiring drivers to get fingerprint background checks. What they faced, (as do many new unchartered industries that launch and grow before laws regulations etc. catch up), was that once they do, it can be a mess.

The emphasis of the panel was focused on how communities, government and citizens, can work together to be proactive to create the future together rather than one coming before the other. The reality is that the sharing economy has always existed, today there is just technology that allows it to be quicker and more efficient. It’s now “organized” sharing, some would say. Whether or not you agree with the regulations currently being debated in communities all over the country regarding the sharing economy, one thing is certain and that is there needs to be more discussion from the private and public side. Will the government ever be able to keep up with the rate of innovation? Probably not, but if they can work with companies to be more proactive and understand where technology is moving only then will we will be able to get ahead of the curve and prevent what happened in Austin.

Arlington recently passed regulation regarding home sharing (AirBnB) and whether you agree with it or not, the fact was that they took steps to address it when other communities ignore the issues, is a good thing. I am sure it will not be the last shared economy regulation that will occur in Arlington and everywhere else. The question is, who will be reactive and who will be proactive?

Topic: BIG Update
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