The Sharing Economy's Role in Natural Disasters

Sharing economy platforms and technology can help with distribution of aid, housing and energy to disaster survivors. Alex Howard's recent article in TechRepublic talks about the potential the sharing economy has during natural disaster relief. 

Hurricane Sandy

Enthusiasts are finding new ways to utilize the peer economy daily including making a significant difference in disaster relief and response.  Howard specifically talks about Hurricane Sandy where Airbnb hosts made space available for those unable to return to their homes. Their involvement was so helpful that city governments are looking to connect with Airbnb to prepare for future disaster preparedness.

City governments are now looking to partner with Airbnb to pre-position supplies and train hosts in communities, investing in resilience against inevitable crises. While there are legitimate questions to be raised about discrimination or disability, investment in shelters by government, and whether such public-private collaborations meet the needs of all populations in terms of access, these kinds of arrangements are providing additional housing options for people who have been displaced.

Howard also talks about the importance of other efforts such as TaskRabbit and Getaround, specifically for ridesharing. Lack of transportation for volunteers and the displaced makes a huge difference in the timeliness of response.

The main concern for users is of course blackouts and power loss, a common issue during disasters. "Innovations in solar batteries, crank radios, bicycle power, and other approaches to generating energy off grid is relevant to disasters." Considering all technology Howard discusses relies on power and connectivity, advancements in these areas will make a huge difference in disaster preparation and ultimately, recovery. 

Check out TechRepublic's article for more information on how the government is involving the sharing economy in disaster relief and let us know what you think.