Future of Sharing: How Cities Around the World Approach the Sharing Economy

April Rinne, Sharing economy expert and advisor, has traveled to almost 100 countries and worked in around 50 of them. “None define sharing the same way,” Rinne says, though she adds that the most general definition of the sharing economy involves sharing under-utilized assets, spaces, and skills. Rinne believes that there’s been a global pendulum shift in the last 18 months, one that led to an increased awareness—if not quite increased expertise—of the sharing economy among policymakers. And while the United States, and the Bay Area in particular, has maintained its role as a leader in technological innovation, it lags behind when it comes to policy innovation. Rinne discussed global policy innovations related to the sharing economy, like the UK’s sharing economy trade association, and Seoul’s Sharing City government department.

Like many of the innovators in our Future of Sharing series, Rinne talked about the shifting nature of the workforce, and discussed how the sharing economy fits into this new landscape. Rinne is a proponent of local regulation of the sharing economy, and estimates that 80-85 percent of the rules that need to be updated are at a municipal level. She laid out five sequential steps that mayors and other municipal officials should take when approaching the sharing economy: education, research, partnerships, participation, and legislation/regulation. Rinne stressed the order of these steps because of the dangers posed by legislators trying to regulate something they don’t understand. “Regulation should be the end point in the journey,” says Rinne.