Last Monday, Miami-Dade Commissioner, Esteban “Steve” Bovo, and representatives from Uber, The Miami Foundation, Lyft, Car2Go, Miami Soup, CycleHop, and Addventures gathered at The LAB Miami for a discussion about the future of Miami’s shared economy. The event was presented by the New Leaders Council-Miami, moderated by Rodrigo Gonzalez, and sponsored by the Knight Foundation. It was an utter success, drawing over 100 attendees, as panelists shared their experiences, struggles, and achievements within the shared economy.
The shared economy is a socio-economic system based on the shared access of goods and services. It can take a variety of forms, but is often enabled by information technology and peer communities that create transparent and trustworthy information-sharing networks.
“Trust is the foundation of the sharing economy,” said Director of International Government Relations at Lyft, Michael Masserman, “without it, our businesses cannot exist.”
The shared economy describes huge market places such as Ebay and Craigslist, as well as emerging sectors, like car and bike-sharing (Uber, Car2Go, Lyft, CycleHop) and peer-to-peer travel (AirBnb).
However, the concept of sharing resources is not new. “We’ve all been to libraries,” said Carl Hildebrand, director at Miami Soup, a grassroots model for funding projects designed to enhance the quality of community life. “What is new is the disruptive technology in transportation.”
Miami’s public transportation system is one that has not evolved to meet the needs or the growth of the city. “One critical problem we have for residents is if you have to stand outside and wait for a bus, you will literally melt out there,” said Commissioner Bovo. If Dade County wants to continue priding itself as “the capital of the Americas,” it must grapple with the transportation issues it faces.
The swelling growth of this new model is opening new opportunities for the way in which we interact and carry out transactions, however it brings up many questions about safety, taxation, and oversight that regulators are struggling to resolve.
There must be increased dialogue with municipalities and government officials to ensure that both innovation and consumer protection are embraced with the rise of this nascent industry.
Last week, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved preliminary steps towards authorizing the currently illegal market of ride-for-hire companies, such as UberX and Lyft. However, this is just a start. Change is a challenging and slow process, especially when it rivals traditional services and the status quo.
As more people, communities, and businesses choose to opt into the new peer-to-peer sharing model, “it will fundamentally change the dynamic between consumers and producers,” said Christopher Sopher, journalism program associate at the Knight Foundation.
“Miami is in an era of continuous disruption,” he added.
By Andrea Rey