The business model of the sharing economy encompasses a range of situations, from the ability for consumers to become providers of a service to being able to promote forms of conscious consumption based on collaboration, reuse, and access to goods.
It is a vast, variegated world in which it will take some effort to understand what it will take to achieve sustainable growth for Italy's economy.
Towards the end of 2015, Collaboriamo.org, together with PHD Media Italy surveyed 118 sharing-economy platforms in Italy, operating in fields ranging from fashion to consumer services. The most vibrant, growing segment turned out to be transportation, which accounted for nearly 20% of the platforms in Italy.
In fact, the sharing economy united with electric transport was found to be one of the most practical solutions for combatting both traffic and pollution according to the authoritative sources such as the report “Future of Urban Mobility 2.0” published by the advisory firm Arthur D. Little or that of the McKinsey Group entitled “Mobility of the Future”. Cities of the future are expected to reclaim both time and space for “urban regeneration” by replacing individual mobility with shared modes of transport and self-driving vehicles. Toyota is already testing a platform in both Tokyo and Grenoble that integrates public transport with the sharing of zero-emission vehicles.
The platform shows the real-time availability of the various means of transport and recommends the best itinerary based on information already available from the various apps for trains, light rail, buses, and car and bike sharing. It's a notable development that a car manufacturer is focusing on such an innovative project of car sharing, rather than on individual ownership, and we are seeing the same sort of thing at Daimler with their Car2Go project.
By November 2016, all European member states will need to present the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport with their national plans for electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, the objective of which is to obtain a portion of the €600 million in funding to support 100 pilot projects for infrastructures to recharge electric vehicles and provide hydrogen to other zero-emission vehicles.
In Italy, there is still much to be done in this regard, but work has begun, not only in the major cities, with car-sharing services for electric vehicles, but also in more rural areas with projects involving both roads and rural trails and waterways, especially those of touristic interest.
“Life for a Better Lagoon”, one of many such projects is taking place at the Lagoon of Orbetello, near Montalto di Castro, where a series of interventions have been proposed, including the sharing of electric bicycles, electric cars, and electric boats. It is an innovative eco-platform of intermodal transport and sustainable mobility featuring the involvement of organizations such as Center for Transport and Logistics (CTL) at La Sapienza University in Rome, Polo della Mobilità Sostenibilie (POMOS), and Enel, which designed the rental and charging stations or the recent agreement with Roma Tre University to provide electric-car sharing for the school’s students, faculty, and administrative staff.
Mobility of the future will need to continue to adapt to the flexibility of demand through platforms that provide the most efficient options in terms of time and itineraries, and incentives to move away from using privately-owned vehicles can work well if, alongside restrictions, there are also alternative solutions that integrate both car sharing and more traditional public transport.