Initiative for Sharing Economy Research (ISE)


Imagine that you wake up in the morning and make yourself breakfast with groceries delivered the night before by one your neighbours who went shopping and with whom you shared via a social media platform your grocery shopping list. You leave your house in which one of the unused bedrooms you decided to rent for few nights for extra income (but this is not inconvenient to you because it is has easy access to a separate entrance). You walk to the car park and check the app on your smart phone for a car that you could rent for few hours; locate one, unlock it with your smartphone; and drive to your meeting place today; as you approach your destination you check another app for the cheapest available parking. You find one at a nearby HDB estate (this space is available for the next several hours because the owner drove to work). The meeting place is a large conference room, rented for the day by your company, in an office building nearby. In the evening, back at home, you decide to go for a bike ride. You walk to a bike sharing kiosk and use your smartphone again to unlock one of the bikes. You ride to the nearby park; going back home, you decide to walk instead of ride, so you leave the bike at another conveniently located kiosk (late at night the bikes autonomously redistribute themselves among the different kiosks). On your way back, you stop by Starbucks where you meet one of your friends who hands you the books you ordered from Amazon (the books were delivered to your friend’s address together with the books your friend ordered). At home you assemble your newly purchased desk using a drill you rented using yet another app from a neighbour (with whom you became good friend afterwards!).

We are witnessing a paradigm shift away from the exclusive ownership and use of resources to one of shared use, and potentially shared ownership. This paradigm shift is taking advantage of innovative new ways of peer to peer sharing that are voluntary and enabled by internet-based exchange markets and mediation platforms. Value is derived from the fact that most resources are acquired to satisfy peak demand but are otherwise poorly utilized. Several successful businesses, such as AirBnB for rooms in private homes, LiquidOffice for office space, Lyft for private car sharing, and SnapGoods for home appliances, among many others, provide a proof of concept and evidence for the viability of the “sharing economy.”  Sharing has the benefit of increasing access while reducing the investments in assets. In turn this could have the twin benefit of improving liveability while optimizing land usage and the need for infrastructure.

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