Stefania Fiorentino | University College London
Examples of sharing economy platforms are proliferating at multiple scales with a differentiated offer of goods and services, generating new concerns on the exploitation of local resources and intellectual properties as well as on the necessary changes required to the regulatory framework of our cities. This paper investigates the traditional economic and ethical issues generated by the sharing economy, proposing an application of blockchain technology to serve planning governance purposes for the benefit of the public sector. This new cutting-edge technology that was initially created and used for transferring digital value, i.e. cryptocurrencies, is now being used for the most diverse applications. While currently under-exploited in applications for smart cities planning, it may represent a fundamental building block for the future digitalization of regulatory planning. Both private actors and local authorities could benefit from a more traceable system ensuring compliance to local regulation and taxation and providing data to be used not only for commercial purposes but also to stir urban regeneration planning.In this paper, we propose blockchain-based management systems (BMSs) – using a distributed ledger and smart contracts – as a new governance tool to improve traceability, transparency and decentralization of transactions and processes in the sharing economy. In particular, we build a BMS prototype for the management of co-working spaces (CWSs) and similar facilities. We use the case of CWSs to show how a blockchain can be used to track transactions between users (e.g. rent payment), and to advertise or store information about a given space. Information may range from ideas conceived in a space to planning regulation at the city scale. A conspicuous amount of data will be permanently and securely stored on ledger and made available to both institutions and corporations, providing a wide range of new governance tools and services to local authorities of the future.