mfioretti: airbnb* + uber*

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  1. a typical white neighborhood would have twice more listings on the platform (four listings, at $120 per night, and 96 percent rating) compared with a non-white neighborhood (two listings, at $107 per night, and 94 percent rating). That is, not everybody has equal opportunities to participate as a host on Airbnb.

    A similar experimental study (i.e. fictitious Airbnb profiles) conducted in 2016-2017, showed that requests from guests with African-American names (vs. white names) were 19 percent less likely to be accepted. So despite Airbnb's efforts — community commitment, removing host pictures in the initial search — these studies document that racial discrimination has always been and is still a critical issue today. There's even a study specifically focused on Airbnb's change of layout last year, comparing daily bookings and price data before and after the implementation of the "anonymity" policy, but it only shows a negligible increase in bookings for black hosts, and only in New York City — not in Los Angeles, New Orleans, or Philadelphia.

    The issue applies to other sectors in the sharing economy. For instance, a study of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing companies indicated a similar pattern of discrimination: Drivers canceled the hailed rides twice more for passengers with African-American sounding names.
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  2. f you’ve been to a conference in the past 12 months – you’ll almost certainly have seen the slide above, or a version of it.

    Mentioning “disruptive innovation” adds a sprinkle of sophistication to otherwise ordinary presentations. It’s a sit up and take notice slide that says: ‘Better listen, or you could be history.”

    However – it doesn’t always hit its intended target. A significant portion of the audience at a couple of events I’ve been to recently have looked at each other as if to say ‘that couldn’t happen to us’.

    The reason for this seems to be the comfort blanket that can come with extended working in the public and social sectors.

    The thinking can go like this.

    We are different.
    We deal with people who are highly complex with multiple needs and vulnerabilities.
    No tech outfit could hope to understand the extent of the personalisation involved in our services.

    It’s optimistic thinking – probably the same that was held by some taxi firms pre-Uber and hotels before Airbnb.

    It’s going to take radical change a lot closer to home before many managers recognise how profoundly the rules of business have changed in the digital age.

    Arguably though , it’s already happening. I’ve made a slide of my own that might be more relevant to the public sector.

    Far from fantasy – we are at the beginning of the end of one size fits all health, housing and social care monopolies.

    Some examples:
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  3. Couchsurfing ha coinvolto 3 milioni di persone nel mondo, Bikesharing 2.2 milioni di bici al mese nel 2011, Carsharing 3.3 miliardi nel 2013, Airbnb 25 milioni di ospiti nel 2014. Ancora non esiste una normativa Ue in materia di sharing economy e anche la ricerca a supporto di una politica comune a riguardo è quasi inesistente. La sharing economy rappresenta ancora l'1% dell'economia formale, in molti casi rappresenta di fatto lo step iniziale per approdare poi ad un economia convenzionale quando non finisce per sostituirla in alcune sue parti, secondo l'analisi.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-12-23)
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  4. the word that is most subverted by the tech industry is share. Everywhere you go on the web you find injunctions to share whatever it is that you’ve found. Buttons provide a one-click way of sharing via email, Twitter, Facebook – which of course gives the companies an efficient way of surveilling not just your browsing habits, but also your online relationships.

    And then there’s the sharing economy which, on closer inspection, seems to be mostly about selling rather than sharing. The poster-children of this euphemism are the cab-hailing app Uber and Airbnb, the platform that enables you to rent someone’s spare room for a night or two at much cheaper rates than a hotel chain could offer.

    Whatever else it is, this ain’t sharing. Instead, it’s a perfectly intelligent way of using the internet as a way of putting buyers and sellers in touch with one another. It’s just the contemporary embodiment of what eBay started all those years ago. And that’s fine. In fact, on a bigger scale it could be one way of reducing the colossal wastefulness of modern industrial society. Why should every household have to own things that spend most of their time idle? We could, of course, just use the net to coordinate the lending of these things to one another. But in general that’s just too much hassle in an urbanised society. So the rise of platforms like eBay, Justpark and Airbnb is a positive development. We just need an honest term to describe it.
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  5. The public doesn’t need a middleman for sharing-economy services, but it does need to make sure they are regulated

    So-called sharing-economy companies such as Uber, Airbnb and Task Rabbit are posing policy headaches for governments around the world. Their argument that they should be exempt from existing regulations because their services are ordered over the Web does not make much sense, but it provides a fig leaf for politicians seeking campaign contributions from these highly capitalized newcomers.

    Part of the response to the innovations associated with these companies should be to modernize regulations. It is reasonable to regulate taxi services in ways that ensure that cars are safe and drivers are competent and responsible. It is also reasonable to regulate rented rooms to ensure they are not fire traps. Similarly, both should be regulated in ways that ensure access to the handicapped and prevent discrimination. In addition, employees in these companies should be covered by workers’ compensation and protected by minimum wage and overtime rules.

    These efforts will require a rewriting of existing regulations, many of which were put in place to protect the existing companies in the industry rather than serve a legitimate public purpose. This sort of modernization is clearly a doable task from a technical standpoint, although sharing-economy companies will undoubtedly use their money to try to block the imposition of rules that put them on an equal footing with their old-fashioned competitors.

    For example, a taxi service could allow for drivers to register in the same way as they do for Uber and Lyft. Customers could use an app to order their services just as they do with Uber and Lyft. The difference would be that the public service would likely take out a lower share of the fare than its for-profit competitors. If its design were effective, only drivers who felt like being ripped off would work for Uber and Lyft.

    In addition, a public service could directly apply standards to providers as a condition of participating. Cab drivers would have to meet licensing standards, and their cars would have to pass inspection. And they would have to arrange insurance for both car and driver. A public version of Airbnb could require that potential renters had their rooms inspected for fire safety and provide copies of leases or condo agreements to ensure that these were not being violated by renting out rooms or whole units.

    A nonprofit in England (with the unfortunate name Beyond Jobs) has established an open-source program for many of these purposes. This system may not be fully up to the job, but it should provide a basis from which to work.

    In addition to cutting out the middleman and ensuring that necessary standards are met, a public service could provide other important benefits. Most notably, it could ensure that customer reviews are the property of the service provider. As it stands, the reviews are typically the property of the company.

    This means if an Uber driver has established himself as a safe and reliable driver, he can’t use his recommendations with another service. The same would be the case with someone renting out a room or apartment through Airbnb. This issue is perhaps most important with labor-service providers such as Task Rabbit. If workers have established themselves as reliable electricians, plumbers or child-care providers, they should be able to carry their records with them. While Task Rabbit and comparable services may not allow such transfers, a public system could assure workers of transferrable recommendations.

    Another great feature of the public option route is that it can be implemented at the local level. There is no need to worry about an intransigent Congress or even hostile state legislators. Any city with a substantial progressive base should be able to take the initiative to set up its own public sharing-economy system. Such systems could be linked among cities — which could be especially helpful in the case of competing with Airbnb.
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  6. Airbnb, Uber, Blablacar and others are not behind the substitution of independent SMEs for the industrial fabric of big businesses whose decomposition is gutting the productivity of cities. In fact, as Bruce Sterling pointed out, by promoting highly centralized models, these business fit into and promote the worst of “smart cities,” deepening precariousness and taking sovereignty from people and the city as a whole. As Sterling asked, “do you think San Francisco or any big American city would let its new taxi system be run by a business located in Barcelona?”

    is the “sharing economy” bad?

    car sharingNo. Absolutely not. It’s just that we must distinguish, and not accept the lies of the “hype” uncritically or in all cases. There are models of couch-surfing that really are communal, and do not create the disasters of Airbnb. There are models of car sharing that don’t try to sell themselves as an alternative mode of production and that were able to evolve from the commons to a business, and from there, be integrated into public services, helping to reduce traffic. Because in reality, the main contribution of the “sharing economy” is to transmit a culture of efficient use of durable consumer goods.

    So, I think it is necessary to put the “sharing economy” in context, not to lose the critical view of the talk about their businesses, and above all, not forget that if they contribute to changes of real importance, it won’t be because they tried to be more than they really are, but by taking on a deeper perspective.
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  7. The best adjective to describe this kind of movement is totalitarian. As the Czech novelist Milan Kundera put it, “Totalitarianism is not only hell, but also the dream of paradise.” So my bid to watch your dog while you’re on vacation—and yours to drive me to the airport—is at once freeing and full of dangers. Who’s responsible if your dog bites my kid while in my care? What kind of car insurance, training and licensing do you need to shuttle me safely? What, if anything, do we owe to the kennel workers and cabbies who lose work? And who decides how we govern all of this?

    There are so many potential conflicts—along professional, political, commercial, geographic, generational and gender lines—posed by sharing that I couldn’t list them here. To pick just one more: sharing is a threat to the general plans of virtually every city. After all, what is Airbnb if not a rezoning of residential areas into hotel space?

    Of course, the movement doesn’t see itself as a starter of wars—and that may be its biggest weakness. Instead of recognizing the conflict and anger that could be produced by their efforts to transform the world, cheerleaders of the sharing economy celebrate its “disruptive” power—as well as its “sustainability.”

    our political system, with its low voter participation and big money, simply can’t produce definitive, legitimate answers on the big new policy questions posed by all this sharing.

    For all its promise, the sharing economy threatens to turn virtually every aspect of living into contested ground. And that’s no way to live.
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  8. Uber è un’applicazione che consente agli utenti di collegarsi con un’auto NCC (Noleggio Con Conducente). Il problema si solleva in realtà dalla sua declinazione successiva, cioè UberPop che consentirebbe a privati di poter offrire passaggi quasi con le stesse modalità di un taxi, stabilendo preventivamente il percorso e il prezzo tramite app.

    Un servizio del genere rienta appieno in quella che viene definita sharing economy: come scrive Francesca Battistoni su Smart Innovation «è una nuova economia che sta nascendo e che sfrutta le nuove tecnologie per proporre forme antiche come il baratto e lo scambio, le porta su una scala più ampia reinventandole e dando una possibilità maggiore di utilizzo. Sono pratiche che favoriscono l’uso e lo sfruttamento del bene privilegiando il riuso piuttosto che l’acquisto e l’accesso piuttosto che la proprietà».

    Rientrano in questo tipo di economia piattaforme popolari come AirBnB, portale online che mette in contatto persone che cercano un alloggio a breve termine con altre persone che hanno uno spazio extra da affittare, o Car2Go, servizio di Car Sharing privato che ha battuto l’analogo servizio del Comune di Roma, la discussa UberPoP e moltissime altre.
    Proprio in relazione a AirBnB, Gianni Dominici, presidente di Forum PA, ha rilasciato delle dichiarazioni molto favorevoli a proposito della sharing economy sulle pagine di TechEconomy: “il cittadino può e deve creare valore e servizi come sta accadendo con Airbnb: si stima che a New York, regolamentando l’attività con una ritenuta alla fonte e con regole precise per la locazione per scongiurare attività in nero, nelle casse del comune arriverebbero 20 milioni di dollari nel solo 2014, cifra che equivale a tutte le politiche di social housing previste dalla città.”
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  9. The same story may apply with Uber. Uber is currently in disputes with regulators over whether its cars meet the safety and insurance requirements imposed on standard taxis. Also, many cities impose some restrictions on the number of cabs in the hopes of ensuring a minimum level of earnings for drivers, but if Uber and related services (like Lyft) flood the market, they could harm all drivers' ability to earn even minimum wage.

    This downside of the sharing needs to be taken seriously, but that doesn't mean the current tax and regulatory structure is perfect. Many existing regulations should be changed, as they were originally designed to serve narrow interests and/or have outlived their usefulness. But it doesn't make sense to essentially exempt entire classes of business from safety regulations or taxes just because they provide their services over the Internet.
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  10. La zona grigia della sharing economy : i problemi legali di Uber e UberPop

    La sharing economy propone dei modelli che fanno fatica a rientrare, o non sono proprio previsti, dalla legislazione, che ha dei tempi di adattamento infinitamente lenti rispetto al mercato.

    Durante la prima tappa del nostro percorso d’aggiornamento Inspiring Route, avevamo elencato alcune “zone grigie” della sharing economy, due delle quali erano proprio la difficoltà a stabilire il confine tra ciò che è privato e ciò che è business e quindi quali regole sono da rispettare nel determinato contesto.

    Le problematiche incontrate in questo senso non sono sicuramente un caso unico italiano e, per fare un esempio, lo stesso Uber è stato da poco messo al bando in Belgio.

    Anche AirBnb ha subito la stessa sorte ed è stato messo sotto accusa a New York, vietato a Berlino ed è da tempo che è oggetto di dispute legali in tutto il mondo, assieme ad altri servizi di house o room sharing come Wimdu, 9Flats and HouseTrip.

    Con l’introduzione di UberPop, la reazione del Comune è stata repentina e l’assessore alla mobilità Pierfrancesco Maran ha dichiarato: “Non si discute sul fatto che sia istigazione a delinquere”.


    Come mai questa decisione?

    Secondo le istituzioni, fissare una tariffa e ricevere un pagamento per un servizio che è considerato privato, non rientra nei termini fissati dalla legge. L’articolo di Martina Pennisi su Wired lo spiega bene: “Viene applicata una tariffa: il fatto che si possa lucrare rende di fatto il guidatore un tassista abusivo”.

    E qui arriviamo a un punto delicato.

    Un valore realmente condiviso passa attraverso la collaborazione

    A prescindere dal concetto di giusto o sbagliato, ciò che può spiazzare del caso di UberPop a Milano non è tanto la filosofia alla base del servizio – nella capoluogo lombarda esistono già diversi servizi di car sharing (Uber, Enjoy, Car2Go, GuidaMi, E-Vai), per cui la città non è nuova ai modelli della sharing economy – ma l’approccio utilizzato per la sua introduzione.

    Se, di base, alcune problematiche legislative legate alla sharing economy sono note, viene da chiedersi quale sia stato l’atteggiamento di Uber al riguardo: si sarà seduto a dei tavoli per contrattare? Avrà seguito il principio secondo il quale l’innovazione non può attendere i tempi della legge, tirando avanti per la sua strada?
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