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Sunday, 25. August 2019  

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Trust and innovation between strangers: Collaborative consumption

Collaborative Consumption describes old world behaviours, such as lending, exchange, swapping and bartering that are now able to operate at scale, across geographic boundaries enabled by technology. The term was coined by Rachel Botsman whose work has brought together thousands of global innovators and entrepreneurs – all using technology and human ingenuity to develop new ways of sharing, lending and exchanging time, skills and resources.

Following an event with Rachel earlier this year, relating to how Collaborative Consumption can build trust between strangers, we have brought together a collection of blogs, video and other resources to explain how we think collaborative consumption builds trust and its potential impact on public services.

Idle No Longer

Over the last year we've been exploring lots of 'Collaborative Consumption' concepts and enterprises and digging deeper into how public services might embrace the principles of collaborative consumption to rethink models of service delivery. In particular, how designing tools and services could help public services harness 'idling capacity'. That is the spare capacity that exists in people, places, and assets. It's a long recognised principle, however now a new breed of entrepreneurs, self-organised communities, and far-sighted local councils are increasingly connecting these resources with technology to develop scalable solutions to many of our challenges.

Harnessing idling capacity is a regular theme in much of the work of the Public Services Lab. Two of our projects in Reboot Britain are testing out services that use the resources, skills and knowledge of citizens to help deliver services to other citizens.

FutureYou aims to help NEETS (children not in education, employment, or training) back into opportunities-such as education, work or skills development by using mentoring to help them develop soft skills and re-orient themselves. The concept of mentoring to develop soft skills is not a new one, but one which has been costly to deliver. FutureYou turns the traditional model on its head by harnessing unused capacity. FutureYou trains peers to mentor NEETS online via a safe social networking platform. NEETS benefit from any-time, peer-based mentoring and support, on platforms that they feel at home with, while the running costs of the model are hugely reduced.

Go Genie, still in development, uses crowd-sourcing to help users, such as the disabled, plan journeys and trips out with much greater ease. It does this by tapping into the collective expertise of the crowd to collect all the details that matter, so that users can plan end to end journeys much more effectively; such as where to get the best seats to lip-read, and what time taxis with wheel-chair ramps stop their shift in Staffordshire. The service aims ultimately to deliver real-time information and tips, together with technology such as 360 degree views, in a way that a traditional, and costly, system of access audits couldn’t hope to deliver.

Idling capacity applies as much to stuff as time and energy. Books quite literally have a long shelf life. As part of NESTA's Make it Local programme, the London Borough of Sutton created Sutton Bookshare, an online tool that helps you find and share books with people in your community. In the spirit of sharing, Sutton, together with NESTA, Adrian Short and Rattle, have further developed the Bookshare source code to allow other communities, schools and organisations the opportunity to create their own Bookshare. Below you'll find a link to the source code, and more information about how you can create your own Bookshare can be found on the Bookshare page.

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Arrow icon pink square [original] Grab the code

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All of these models depend on creating new kinds of relationships with, and between, citizens and particularly trust between strangers as the glue that holds it all together. Our event earlier this year explored this notion and what it means in practice. The videos and presentations from that day are worth exploring in more detail. We've also produced a brief animation introducing some good public examples of collaborative consumption in action, and asked those doing interesting work in this space to pen some blogs on the topic too. You can dig into these more deeply, and comment in our related blogs to the right.

Watch our interview with Rachel Botsman







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