Providing the appropriate tools will help to set up collaborative projects in cities and encourage people to express their views on the kind of city they would like to be living in. Of course it is unlikely that all cities will be able to follow this collaborative approach.
Interview with Lauren Anderson, Chief Knowledge Officer at Sydney-based Collaborative Lab, the global advisory services arm of CollaborativeConsumption.com. L’Atelier caught up with her at a panel session on the ‘Shareable City’ at the OuiShareFest event held on 2 - 4 May in Paris.
L'Atelier: How would you define the concept of the ‘Shareable City’?
Lauren Anderson:The idea of the Shareable City is based on using the city’s public services to help people communicate with each other. The aim is to encourage creativity and growth in a participative way. All in all, a city which is really shared, as the term implies.
L'Atelier: What mechanisms need to be put in place to help this sharing concept emerge?
Lauren Anderson:Ways and means have to be provided for entrepreneurs, governments and firms to communicate and promote the various channels of communication they have available. It’s then up to these players to make people aware of the potential of the technologies. I would also underline that the Shareable City is only possible if the government provides financial support to help new companies develop.
L'Atelier: Do you think that all cities will move towards this collaborative participative model?
Lauren Anderson:I think there are about five or six large cities which are going in that direction or are already implementing this sort of model. I’m talking here about San Francisco and New York in the United States. In Europe, there’s London, Paris, and Berlin. But cities in South Korea also have the potential, as have Sydney and Sao Paulo. But no, I don’t think that every city will go for this approach.
L'Atelier: In practical terms, what are the advantages of Shareable Cities?
Lauren Anderson:This type of city offers better access to resources, to the spaces available there, to tools and especially to skills. It enables you to reduce waste and excess consumption as people collectively become aware of what they possess and have the right kind of tools available to use their resources properly.
L'Atelier: One of your co-panellists, Molly Turner, spoke about the challenge which suburbanisation represents. Could you tell us more about this?
Lauren Anderson:City living is expensive, so an increasing number of people leave for the suburbs. They move away from the centres of communication and from the Shareable City. Even though they have the same communication tools – smartphones, Internet and so on – they’ll no longer be able to keep up with what’s going on at first hand. So we need to take care not to let people living in the suburbs get left behind.
L'Atelier: Listening to what you say, I have the impression that the Shareable City concept is really only for the better-off cities…
Lauren Anderson:Well, that’s not such a wrong impression. As I mentioned, in order to create this city concept investment is needed and that means finding the money. But even without money, it’s possible to improve communication between all the different players. But if you’re talking about building infrastructure then a lack of funds does become a problem.