The Uberization of the City and What it Means for Local Communities

  • Betsy Donald, Geography and Planning, Queen's University
    Coach House, Green College, UBC

    Wednesday, February 8, 5-6:30 pm
    in the series
    The Next Urban Planet: Rethinking the City in Time
  • Media-stories about the “sharing economy” are hard to avoid these days as companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Taskrabbit/Askfortask are transforming the way consumers connect with service providers. These so called “innovations”, however, aren’t really about “sharing”. They are commercial transactions and there is nothing particularly new about renting out a home to strangers, private transportation, or cleaning and home-repair services. What is new, however, is the role that mobile and ICT technologies (like smart phones, GPS, rating and credit card platforms) are playing in the delivery of services and the resulting disruption of existing systems. This talk will examine the disruptive nature of what others have called “the uberization of the city” and explore it in the context of Uber and Airbnb’s introduction into several Canadian cities. Uber has become one of the most vexing problems facing cities today because it exploded on the market without much warning leaving policymakers to react quickly. Policy questions center on the fairness of a radical new framework that could result in the near over-night loss of life-savings at the local level while enriching distant Silicon Valley innovators who introduced it. With Airbnb, the policy questions centre around the disruption of stable communities and the loss of affordable local housing all with a corresponding enrichment of distant innovators. Drawing on a long-standing research project on the social dynamics of innovation in Canadian city-regions, this talk will first define what we mean by the uberization of the city and examine the implications for the long-term health and sustainability of a city for everyone.
  • Unless otherwise noted, all of our lectures are free to attend and do not require registration.


February 8th, 2017 5:00 PM through  6:30 PM
Coach House
6201 Cecil Green Park Rd
Green College, UBC
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
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Speaker Series The Next Urban Planet: Rethinking the City in Time
Short Title The Uberization of the City
Speaker (new) Betsy Donald, Geography and Planning, Queen's University
Short Speaker Betsy Donald
Speaker First Name Betsy
Speaker Last Name Donald
Speaker Affiliation Geography and Planning, Queens University
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