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The Sharing Economy in Helsinki

download_2.jpegIn a recent article for Shareable, Anna Bergren Miller (@abergrenmiller) discusses the booming sharing economy in Helsinki. The capital of Finland has accumulated a wide range of sharing economy platforms as well as services. According to Pasi Mäenpää, a researcher in the University of Helsinki’s Department of Sociology, "There are both big and small examples, innovative and everyday ones, of how sharing takes place."

Why Helsinki?

Until recently, Helsinki was an agriculture-focused nation, and this agrarian society was always collaborative economy focused. The Finnish prioritize voluntary communal work, and centuries ago when crops needed to be harvested, the men of the village would do it all together. Finland’s political economy has also demonstrated a commitment to political democracy in order to make it easier for individuals to launch their initiatives. According to Timo Santala, an event producer, DJ, journalist and photographer,

“We have a strong tradition of social security and state involvement. So we have inbuilt in our politics the idea that if someone has more, we should share it, and the state will distribute [resources] equally."

Additionally, the city’s relationship to technology, particularly mobile technology, has allowed sharing service providers to add convenience and cost savings to the reasons for choosing against the more conventional models. But maybe most significantly, Helsinki is a strange combination of high unemployment rates and an excellent education system. As a result, highly educated people are doing jobs that they’re not happy or invested in, allowing for them to consider exploring more creative options.

The government’s lukewarm embrace

According to Henni Ahvenlamp, Head of Marketing at PiggyBaggy,

"To be honest, I don't think the City of Helsinki has done a lot. It has done trials with us and with other parties. [But] it seems more important to them how many trials per year they are having than where the trials end up. There's this need for a change of attitude when it comes to making permanent change."

But the sharing economy indirectly benefits from the city’s top priorities. Helsinki is revolutionizing open data -- the City of Helsinki Urban Facts is an entire department dedicated to open data, statistics and research. This data does a great job in providing a huge tool for creating sharing economy ideas.

Obstacles and optimism

"The City of Helsinki isn't a one-policy thing. There are 40,000 employees in 31 departments. I think the main problem remaining is the City's complex organization. People find it hard to find the right office or person to contact. We're working on this. Social media helps.”

Said Santala and Deputy Mayor Sauri. Another obstacle is tendency toward over-regulation. Especially in the transportation sector, the state interferes so much that “it makes you want to change it” said Santala. In combination with the small population of Helsinki, it can be harder for sharing trends to gain enough traction. There are a lot of people who want to do things, but the small market makes it difficult. Despite all these challenges, Helsinki residents have plenty to be optimistic about, especially considering the nature of the community that has emerged around sharing initiatives.In Ahvenlampi’s words,

“Even if we're doing the same thing, we communicate with one another. That's a really good strength. We don't compete against other sharing economy companies; we're competing against less efficient ways of doing things."

Read source article here

Topics: Sharing Economy

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