Initiative on the Sharing Economy publications

In the news

  • Hourcar embraces car-sharing's electric future in the Twin Cities (StarTribune, October 23, 2018)
    Unlike ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft, where customers are driven to their destinations, car-sharing involves patrons driving themselves to wherever they need to go. Hourcar’s model — for now — involves customers picking up a vehicle at one of its 50 hubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and returning it to the same place.... Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and CTS Scholar, said car-sharing “only works in certain places. We don’t have the density of Boston or [Washington, D.C.] or San Francisco.”
  • DMC joins autonomous vehicle research project (KROC–106.9 Radio (Rochester), October 10, 2018)
    The Destination Medical Center initiative in Rochester has been chosen to participate in a University of Minnesota research project concerning the use of autonomous vehicles. The National Science Foundation grant will provide the U of M with $1.75 million over three years to work toward the possible development of what’s termed a “smart cloud commuting system.” Proponents envision community’s using large pools of shared autonomous vehicles to provide inexpensive transportation services to everyone. Initiative on the Sharing Economy director Saif Benjaafar is quoted.
  • Self-driving cars on Minnesota streets? Grant will help researchers prepare (Pioneer Press, October 8, 2018)
    University of Minnesota researchers received a $1.75 million grant to continue studying the future impact of self-driving vehicles. The 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation will research connecting communities with self-driving cars through shared data and will recommend guidelines for future transportation projects. Researchers will partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit which are also studying the potential effects of self-driving vehicles in Minnesota.
  • University of Minnesota research shows how roads can be greener with driverless vehicles (StarTribune, October 6, 2018)
    Urban design experts at the University of Minnesota are redrawing what city blocks could look like in a world of driverless vehicles. Roads of the future will likely be narrower, greener and easier to share with pedestrians once autonomous vehicles evolve from the drawing boards and testing roads of automakers and tech firms to widespread use on city streets. The move to wrest the controls from human drivers is gaining traction. The U has just received a $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to further study autonomous vehicles and the future of transportation services. Initiative on the Sharing Economy participating faculty member Tom Fisher is quoted.
  • NSF announces $24.2 million to support research fueling smart cities and communities (University of Minnesota News, October 5, 2018)
    The University of Minnesota announced today that it has received a $1.75 million grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the NSF's Smart & Connected Communities grant program. The University of Minnesota’s project is one of only 13 projects chosen by NSF nationwide. The grant, entitled Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP), supports fundamental research on a critical challenge facing many cities and communities—how to leverage the emergence of self-driving vehicles, also known as autonomous vehicles, to rethink and redesign future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits. Initiative on the Sharing Economy director Saif Benjaafar and participating faculty member Tom Fisher are quoted. [This news also was featured in University of Minnesota CSE News, Newswise, and ECN Magazine.]
  • NSF announces $24.2 million to support research fueling smart cities and communities (National Science Foundation News, October 4, 2018)
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced approximately $22.6 million in Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) awards, supporting 13 projects involving researchers at 35 institutions nationwide, including the University of Minnesota. NSF's S&CC program supports researchers working with communities and residents to identify and define challenges they face and designing research projects to help address them. Teams work together with community partners to conduct use-inspired research that spans technological and social dimensions, and to test innovations in "living labs" within their communities. More about the University of Minnesota project.
  • Expert Alert: Dockless scooters and bikes in a sharing economy (UMN News, July 17, 2018)
    Frank Douma with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota is available for comment on dockless bicycles and electric scooters offered by the private sector in a sharing economy.
  • CTS-funded projects will explore autonomous vehicles, equity, and more (CTS Catalyst, June 2018)
    CTS has awarded seed funding to five new transportation-related projects that will explore a variety of topics, including autonomous vehicles (AVs), equity, and shared mobility. The seed funding, awarded biennially, aims to help CTS Scholars develop expertise in emerging areas and foster strategic relationships that position them for future funding opportunities. A project led by civil, environmental, and geo- engineering (CEGE) assistant professor Alireza Khani and industrial and systems engineering professor Saif Benjafaar will provide insights on how collaborative consumption and mobility-as-a-service can help improve transportation systems. The project will study the impacts of new mobility solutions such as transportation network companies on travel behavior and the cost-effectiveness of transit systems.
  • Getting ready for shared autonomous vehicles (CTS Catalyst, April 2018)
    Fleets of shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) will be on our roads within a decade as part of mobility services offered by both car and technology companies, says Professor Tom Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center at the U of M. “This transportation revolution will have a profound effect on our infrastructure and land use as well as on employment, the environment, and the economy,” he says. Below, Fisher provides insights for community leaders and planners to prepare for these changes.
  • Initiative on the Sharing Economy awards discovery grants (CTS Catalyst, April 2018)
    The University of Minnesota’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy has awarded its first discovery grants to two new projects. These grants aim to support transdisciplinary partnerships and collaborative research by U of M faculty and researchers on themes related to the sharing economy, especially shared mobility and shared transportation. In the first newly funded project, researchers will map sharing economy opportunities in both urban and rural areas. The second project aims to quantify and improve market efficiency in app-based ridesharing.
  • For some workers, that paycheck could be in cryptocurrency sooner than later (CNBC, March 13, 2018)
    "Technology has emerged in the last couple of years, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies, that could in principle take the platform out of the business of payment processing and disbursement and enable peer-to-peer payments," said Saif Benjaafar, director of the Initiative on the Sharing Economy at the University of Minnesota.
  • Using innovative transportation options to increase vaccination rates (CTS Catalyst, March 2018)
    Vaccines are the most powerful and cost-effective means of protecting infants from many life-threatening diseases. But in order for vaccines to work, many have to be given at the right time in a baby’s first year of life. For parents in low-income countries, getting their infants vaccinated on time can be difficult-to-impossible due to many issues—including a lack of transportation to clinics. To increase vaccination timeliness for infants, a U of M team is testing a new strategy in Uganda that may offer residents living in high-density urban areas cheap, reliable transportation to clinics through transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Safeboda. The U of M team includes study leader Diana Negoescu, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISyE); Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, ISyE professor, and director of the U’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy; and Nicole Basta, assistant professor in the School of Public Health. Dr. Cecily Banura from Makerere University in Uganda is also a member of the team. The project was recently funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Program.
  • Experts discuss innovation and Minnesota’s transportation network (CTS Catalyst, December 2017)
    Following the conference luncheon presentation, a panel of local experts built on the theme of innovation in a question-and-answer session. Panelists offered insights on how innovative technologies and policy approaches could affect Minnesota’s transportation network now and in the future. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said he’s motivated by the increased activity in the private sector, especially related to the sharing economy. “What opportunities does this mean for new innovative policy? Where do we see the potential for market failures? How do we work to get the price right, and what questions arise if our focus is on a more equitable outcome?”
  • Public-private partnerships offer opportunities for transit improvements (CTS Catalyst, December 2017)
    New modes of transportation have recently seen explosive growth, with companies leveraging digital technologies to offer a variety of mobility services on demand. Among the most successful are transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft and Uber that match drivers with riders through online digital platforms. “TNCs offer a flexible model that has some key advantages over traditional transit, including the ability to provide on-demand transportation without the costs of physical assets or dedicated drivers,” says Saif Benjaafar, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE).
  • Dockless bike sharing: Coming soon to the Twin Cities (StarTribune, November 6, 2017)
    A rite of late autumn in the Twin Cities involves hundreds of cheery green Nice Ride Minnesota bikes being gathered up and packed away for winter storage. But a big change is in the works for bike-sharing here, and it may make its debut as soon as next spring. Instead of pedaling a Nice Ride bike from station to station, cyclists will use smartphone apps to locate and rent "dockless bikes" anywhere and leave them locked wherever they please. At least that’s the theory. The reality could be a bit different.... "Any time you have innovation like this, it raises questions about the right balance between community control and laissez-faire," said Greg Lindsey, a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. "This tension is definitely playing out." [This story also appeared in Governing on November 7, 2017]
  • UMN students turn to Airbnb to ease tuition and living costs (Pioneer Press, October 25, 2017)
    University of Minnesota students are turning to short-term rental services like Airbnb to ease living expenses and tuition costs. Student “hosts” say the service accommodates their packed schedules. But recent regulations passed by the Minneapolis City Council could complicate business. “Cash-strapped” college students facing steep housing and tuition costs can recoup some of their money by leasing an extra room, said Saif Benjaafar, a U professor in industrial and systems engineering who heads the school’s initiative on the sharing economy.
  • Behind Ikea’s purchase of Taskrabbit, Amazon looms (SF Gate, October 17, 2017)
    “I see the acquisition of TaskRabbit by Ikea as part of a broader trend, where firms enhance the value to their customers by offering additional services, with these services provided by a third party,” said Saif Benjaafar, director of the University of Minnesota’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy.
  • National non-profit comes to Minneapolis with ride sharing goals (Minnesota Daily, July 12, 2017)
    The Shared-Use Mobility Center, a nonprofit that promotes “shared mobility” services, introduced an action plan to Minneapolis City Council Tuesday to lay out its goals and plans for the future of Twin Cities ride sharing.... Saif Benjaafar, director of the University’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy, said in an email the relatively low costs of cars in the U.S., taxes on them and their fuel have led to their prevalence. However, Benjaafar said evidence shows consumers are willing to share rides with strangers given the right incentives and safeguards.
  • Students explore sharing economy for Minneapolis neighborhood (CTS Catalyst, February 2017)
    Last semester, 39 students in the U’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree program explored ways to integrate a Minneapolis neighborhood—the North Loop (Nolo)—into the sharing economy. Located just north of downtown in the Warehouse Historic District, the neighborhood has experienced revitalization and increasing property values in recent years. In the class (Public Affairs 5211: Urban Land Use Planning), student teams created 13 proposals on topics such as parking reallocation (see sidebar), bike sharing, and walkability. They showcased their work in more than 100 posters at an exhibit in December. Fernando Burga, an assistant professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is the course instructor.
  • Saif Benjaafar named CTS Senior Scholar (CTS Catalyst, February 2017)
    Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has been named the first CTS Senior Scholar. He will serve a two-year term and receive some funding to support this role. The selection was made through a competitive process with guidance from the CTS Executive Committee. Benjaafar has been engaged with CTS on a variety of projects and activities for nearly 20 years. Most recently, he has led the Initiative on the Sharing Economy, an effort established by CTS in partnership with Benjaafar and other faculty members across the University and administered by CTS.
  • TaskRabbit sharing economy revolution overshadowed by Uber (The Sydney Morning Herald, December 24, 2016)
  • TaskRabbit’s Stalled Revolution (Bloomberg Technology, December 22, 2016)
    TaskRabbit was founded in 2008 with a big idea. On the company's website and app, people make money by assembling strangers’ Ikea furniture or cleaning their bathrooms.... Saif Benjaafar, who runs the Sharing Economy Initiative, a research project at the University of Minnesota, credits TaskRabbit with helping create a movement.
  • Sharing economy delivers risks, rewards to Rochester (Minnesota Public Radio News, October 4, 2016)
  • Uber faces new competition for business customers (Le Temps, August 10, 2016)
    A few days apart, Lyft has confirmed monthly losses of $ 50 million and launched its premium Lyft Premier offer. Saif Benjaafar, director of the Sharing Economy initiative at the University of Minnesota, said there was nothing inconsistent about it. "Most of these start-ups are first trying to gain market share. Their success depends above all on their ability to quickly build a solid base of customers and drivers, "analyzes the professor. "To get there, you often have to subsidize on both sides." In the words of John Zimmer, co-founder and chairman of Lyft, these spectacular losses would in fact amount to investment.
  • The sharing economy is here (Institute on the Environment blog, June 16, 2016)
  • The sharing economy is here—and it’s shaping how we live (CTS Catalyst, June 2016)
    In the luncheon presentation of the Symposium on the Sharing Economy, Professor Tom Fisher looked at the deeper reasons why the sharing economy is appealing to so many people, so fast—and what the transformation may mean for our daily lives. “The sharing economy resonates in ways that are very deeply embedded in our subconscious,” began Fisher, director of the Metropolitan Design Center in the U of M’s College of Design. “Ninety percent of human history was spent in small tribal groups. The sharing economy is a reinvention of capitalism and a return to a village economy—a high-tech version of the one in which humans evolved. And it’s almost irresistible.”
  • Experts share research, identify future needs at symposium workshop (CTS Catalyst, June 2016)
    The Symposium on the Sharing Economy began with a one-day workshop that brought together researchers from around the globe to discuss their work, foster collaboration, and identify future research needs. Several faculty from the U of M’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy gave presentations. The symposium was one of the initiative’s first activities. Launched in 2015, the initiative was established by CTS in partnership with Professor Saif Benjaafar and other faculty members across the University and is administered by CTS. It aims to position the U of M at the forefront of the development of a science of the sharing economy.
  • Symposium sparks discussion of sharing economy’s promise—and perils (CTS Catalyst, June 2016)
    A typical car sits unused for more than 95 percent of its service life. Cars are just one of many things—from meeting space to power tools—that are privately owned but barely used. Unlocking this excess capacity is the essential idea of the sharing economy, said Professor Saif Benjaafar, director of the U of M’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy and chair of the Symposium on the Sharing Economy, held last month in Minneapolis. The two-day symposium was organized by the initiative and sponsored by CTS and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. It consisted of a research workshop and a public forum.
  • How Libraries — Yes, Libraries — Are Helping People Ditch Stuff They Don’t Need (Huffington Post, April 29, 2016)
  • How will sharing technologies shape our transportation future? (CTS Catalyst, April 2016)
    In a report Unused car infographicsponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, U of M experts examine three dimensions of sharing—cars, rides, and bikes—and their emerging implications for transport. Car-sharing services such as Zipcar and Car2Go allow users to share a car just as they share a hotel room—by paying a third party and using it at separate times. Ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber function as modern taxi services that use mobile phone applications to allow passengers to request rides from independent drivers. Finally, bike-sharing services like Nice Ride Minnesota allow bicyclists to use a bicycle at the location they need it, often as an extender of transit service. In the future, the report’s authors believe that with more widespread use of information technologies and the maturation of autonomous vehicles, ownership and possession will no longer be necessary prerequisites for on-demand mobility.
  • Sharing Economy in the Fast Lane (China’s People’s Daily, China’s largest newspaper, also picked up by Xinhuanet, March 16, 2016)
  • What’s your StORy? (OR/MS Today, February 18, 2016)
  • ‘New logistics’ will change the way goods are delivered—and how the road network is used (CTS Catalyst, February 2016)
    Today, moving freight accounts for more than a third of the world’s transport energy—and that share is growing. The rise in global trade, online retailing, and business-to-business delivery is not only changing how goods are moved but also the type of goods moved and how far or frequently they are transported. Currently, this massive movement of goods throughout the economy relies on an intricate—and largely decentralized— multimodal network of truck, rail, ship, and airplane delivery. However, change is on the horizon. In a study sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, U of M experts outline the important impacts these changes will have on the road network and transportation infrastructure.
  • Initiative on the Sharing Economy to stimulate leadership and research (CTS Catalyst, January 2016)
    Picture a day like this: You use an app to locate and rent a car and drive to a meeting. You check another app for available parking and find a spot at a nearby condo complex (it’s available because the owner is away). The meeting place is rented for the day by your company. On your way home, you stop for coffee with a friend, who hands you the books you ordered together online. You use another app to see if a neighbor has a power drill you can borrow to assemble a bookshelf. This vision is increasingly becoming a reality, says Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the U of M’s Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the director of the new Initiative on the Sharing Economy. The new initiative will shed light on these issues, with a particular focus on peer-to-peer shared mobility. The initiative was established by CTS in partnership with Benjaafar and other faculty members across the University and is administered by CTS. It aims to position the U of M at the forefront of the development of a science of the sharing economy.
  • Hispanics Twice as Likely to Regularly Use Ride-Sharing Apps (Morning Consult, June 23, 2015)
  • Sharing economy gaining traction in the republic (Straits Times, Singapore largest newspaper, February 4, 2014)