Through my frequent car-sharing experiences, I received near unanimous feedback from existing drivers about their eroding earnings because of these intermediaries’ incredible market power to recruit other new drivers and set lower fares. Many of these drivers are full time drivers and they only receive about 80% of the final fares, after paying the intermediaries their cut. The drivers mentioned that they were considering a move back to regular taxi service once their current one-year contract is over, in order to earn a better and stable income.
In midst of these upcoming debates, regulators should never forget to put people interests, the commuters and the drivers, at the heart of their policy considerations.
In this Project Syndicate’s article entitled “Life in the Uber City“, MIT’s Senseable City Lab researchers encourage policymakers to direct resources towards supporting “a bottom-up” ecosystem to make smart cities a reality and also to nurture “the regulatory frameworks” which creates the urban space to allow innovations to thrive.
On one hand, I agree with their call to enable a more conducive regulatory environment for smart city innovations like Uber, Nest and Airbnb to flourish, but I also believe that technology multinationals programmes such like Microsoft CityNext and IBM Smarter Planet should not be avoided. These multinationals play a very important role to support the larger local technology economy and provide important institutional knowledge and best practices to make such smart cities innovations truly scale up beyond district level and spread the benefits across the entire city.
Therefore, policymakers should not be forced to go one way over the other but keep an open mind about technology, and focus their effort on developing a regulatory environment which supports all innovation from both sides – start-ups or multinationals, to thrive, and that’s a really smart choice.
A link to the Council of Foreign Relations Internet Governance primer and a discussion on the role of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The primer also raises the question whether ICANN’s structure and operating model pose as boon or a threat to the governance of the Internet, whether Internet governance should in the hands of nation states or the “collective commons“.
The power of the Internet is at its greatest utility when its disruptive technologies (think innovative mobile payment or transportation services) are able to get ahead of highly regulated environment and revive public services that have stagnated over the years.
Singapore ranks thirty in the 2013 World Happiness Report issued by the United Nations, a ranking of nations’ well-being that includes measures such as GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices.
The report edited by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs is an effort to provide a scientific basis to incorporate well-being as part of the consideration for countries’ sustainable development policy .