An economy based on community trade might feel out of place in the 21st century, but the success of Amsterdam’s sharing economy says otherwise. The Dutch city is embracing a collaborative economy, one that leans heavily on citizens, businesses, and government working together.
Digital platforms foster a sharing economy
Much of the success of the sharing economy is due to digital platforms and their ability to connect people. Per Apolitical, the app Peerby is known as the poster child of the movement in Amsterdam. Peerby allows users to either borrow or rent household items from others in their community. For example, if you needed a specific power drill and someone three blocks away had that drill, you could find it on Peerby and borrow it for the day. According to the app, there is a wide range of items and most are free. The company takes a small percentage of the proceeds from rented items.
Peerby got its start in 2012, and since then other apps with similar platforms have followed. ParkFlyRent allows users to rent cars parked by travelers at Schiphol airport. Djeepo connects users with private storage spaces, like someone’s attic, empty garage, spare bedroom, etc. Through using spaces, cars, or tools that would otherwise go unused, a more sustainable city is created. Using a neighbor’s car instead of buying our own means one less car on the road, and taking advantage of spare rooms for storage allows us to use spaces that already exist, instead of creating new ones.
There are also apps that share skills, like musical lessons, and apps that connect people to voluntary work. The list goes on, but the platforms share the goal of creating a more sustainable and neighborly city.
Amsterdam government plays its part in growing collaboration
Part of the success of the sharing economy is due to the local government’s participation. In 2015, Amsterdam declared itself to be the first European Sharing City. They established an Action Plan, which includes goals like Stimulating the Sharing Economy, Leading by Example, flexible Rules and Regulations, and more.
They also formed a partnership with shareNL, a company that is running the Amsterdam Sharing City project. ShareNL advises corporations and governments on ways to encourage collaboration between local citizens, businesses, and government. City Hall relies on sharenNL’s research to implement policy geared towards improving collaboration.
The demographic most willing to share consists of middle class 20 to 45 year-olds, which excludes a lot of people, but both the city and businesses are hoping to find ways to reach others. According to Femke Haccoû, who works for the city, the goal is to always be moving forward.
“We want to stay ahead of the game and pilot projects which other cities can then learn from.”
Structuring an economy around community and sustainability instead of one that is purely profit-driven almost feels utopic, but it’s happening right now in Amsterdam, and hopefully more communities adopt it!