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Taipei takes initial steps in becoming shareable city

Special to The China Post--Today there is an unprecedented degree of interconnectivity gaining momentum in culture, politics and the economic system. The immersion in the age of innovation, open information, communication and technology platforms has provided a new infrastructure for participation.

Cities are just starting to wake up to the magnitude and power of the sharing economy. In late 2012, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon addressed the city's issue with overpopulation and urbanization that had led to housing, transportation and parking shortages, pollution and resource overuse, and thus began his vision to reshape Seoul to become the world's leading shareable city. By taking a proactive approach to remedy these issues, there are now programs promoting the sharing of resources such as books, cars, spaces, houses and more.

Perhaps the most obvious and successful example of Taiwan's efforts toward a shareable city is Taipei's bicycle renting system, YouBike. Started in 2012, the Taipei Department of Transportation reports that YouBike ridership has already tripled this year when compared to the same period last year, attributing growth to an increase in the numbers of rental stations and bicycles. As an eco-friendly way of traveling around, transportation official Liu Chia-yu says the network draws around 50,000 users a day.

Meanwhile, as consumption behavioral patterns shift, innovators and entrepreneurs are also looking to contribute to the future of their cities, looking to create a sustainable business model that can match “need” with “want” in real time with clear price transparency, optimized efficiency and minimal waste.

SpaceShare is one example of a government-funded organization, run by an ambitious group of social activists, aiming to optimize the unused space dilemma in Taipei. Liu Che-wei, project manager also currently working in classic landscape design and environmental planning, says that every year there are more than 100,000 unused properties within Taipei City. This idling capacity is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed, especially with average rent and real estate prices growing increasingly out of reach within the densely populated city.

SpaceShare, the result, is a platform that matches “space demanders” with “space providers,” offering a cost-effective way for both parties to collectively share their space, with the emphasis that the match promotes growth of public welfare efforts — anything community, cultural, eco-friendly oriented to spur innovation and collaboration within the city.

Current matches have already provided space for the growth of crowd-learning communities, aspiring musicians hosting public events, eco-friendly groups introducing non-pesticide organic vegetables into market, childhood development programs focused on design and creativity, and more.

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