Urban Transport in the Sharing Economy Era. Collaborative Cities

More than half of the global population lives in cities. This percentage reaches 80% in Latin America, the second most urbanized region on the planet. Driven largely by population growth and the pursuit of better living conditions and work opportunities, this trend is expected to continue.

This rapid pace of urbanization creates enormous social and economic challenges that jeopardize the economic and environmental sustainability of cities. The development of new technologies that improve management of metropolitan areas and the quality of life of their residents is key for addressing these challenges.

In a digitally connected world, citizens have the capacity to participate in the development of cities, thereby changing the way cities are understood and planned. Based on the key tenets of Collaborative Economy –exchange and collaboration– a collaborative city connects citizens with the decision-making process in public affairs, protects the right to contribute and share, and facilitates the exchange of learning and transferring of skills, in turn promoting a collective vision of the city.  By moving towards innovative public policies that incorporate citizens as drivers and protagonists of change in their communities, collaborative cities also narrow the classic gap between citizens and government.

Today, collaborative cities establish both public and private initiatives that give more power to citizens with the aim of reducing social inequalities, improving quality of life, and promoting a holistic vision of urban networks to tackle problems related to climate change and socio-spatial inequality. These interactions not only promote business models based on exchange, they also take advantage of the power of collective intelligence and collaboration in finding solutions to the challenges of rapid urbanization.

Specifically, the collaborative economy changes why and how people move around the city: it tends to optimize individual transportation costs and to improve urban mobility. While the impacts of this phenomenon are being studied in several cities around the world, research on urban processes related to the emergence of digital transport platforms in the Global South is still incipient.

This document approaches some of the central themes that link the collaborative economy to urban development through four international case studies: Cairo, Sao Paulo, Cali and New Delhi. With focus on transport in cities, these case studies provide relevant data and new perspectives on labor issues, gender, regulation and their organization in systems.

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