Collaborative Consumption and Public Services

Over lunch earlier today I starting watching some Ted Videos as I subscribe to their feed in my google reader and I enjoy getting inspired listening to the talks and they create little sparks of thought, most to be honest never make it to a blog post but some do.

The talk I watched featured Rachel Botsman, who is the co-author of the book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.

Rachel States:

Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting being reinvented through the latest technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before. If you’ve used a car sharing service like Zipcar, experienced peer-to-peer travel on Airbnb, given away or found something on Freecycle or lent money through Zopa, you’re already part of the rise of Collaborative Consumption.

Collaborative Consumption is a game-changing opportunity for networked technologies to transform business, public services and the way we live.

I do very much like this concept and the movement that it promotes, however I started thinking that it does seem very similar to the concept of LETS:

A Local Exchange Trading System is a local, non-profit exchange network where all kinds of goods and services can be traded without the need for money, using an interest-free local currency so that direct bartering does not need to be done.

It offers many social as well as economic benefits, through regular core group meetings, trading days and social events. LETS is a truly international movement, although there is no global governing body. There are similar groups in places as diverse as France, Japan, the USA, and Hungary.
Via Exeter LETS Scheme

Considering the new focus on technology enabled collaborative consumption schemes and the existing LETS schemes – are these another key foundation and building block for Big Society and Public Service Delivery.

Then it struck me again that I’d already seen something which pretty much does this and is using technology as well as providing social care services –  Southwark Circle states on its website:

Southwark Circle members get together to enjoy a variety of interests and activities, and to learn new things through the Member Calendar. They can also buy tokens to get help from local, reliable Neighbourhood Helpers. Some members also help out fellow members and can earn tokens for doing so.

So I’d suggest that any public service people thinking about connecting with groups who can help get involved in providing services either formally or through connected networks or strong neighbourhood groups, then I would take a look your local LETS.

The Civil Sector and Public Sector

On friday last week, I attended the Socitm South West Regional Meeting, where there were a number of presentations from various people from Orange (Event Sponsors) who are actually now part of a new organisation Everything Everywhere – A merger of Orange and T-Mobile. I personally didn’t really take note of this when this was announced back in May, but actually it is quite a big deal when you think about what this means to the mobile networks and coverage. They still need to sort our rural connectivity if they want to make a real difference. Maybe they should connect to Race Online 2012 and make a pledge…

One of the most interesting presentations on the day came from Julie Harris, CEO of Cosmic, a Social Enterprise based in East Devon. What was interesting for me was that Julie highlights some of the practical challenges facing the civil sector in progressing the Big Society – also a great observation that public sector and civil sector partnership working is the Big Society really…

Some really interesting insights in identifying local projects which Cosmic are involved in which could add real value to some high level strategies that the public sector has and are proactively progressing – such as “Channel Migration” – supporting these strategies through grass-roots support and mentoring  via the Digital Mentors programme.

Digital Mentors aim to provide technology training, support, workshops and advice to local sole traders and SME’s –  The support and guidance on offer will include use of standard ‘Office’ software, social media, simple website creation and promotion demonstrations, tips on online selling, computer maintenance and support.

Via Cosmic – Digital Mentors

Julie also make a very obvious point about aligning and working together more with regard to Analysis and Research around IT enabled change etc. An obvious link to Socitm naturally exists as Socitm have expanded into the 3rd Sector – perhaps a bit more to do on making local connections to add value to the widerSocitm membership.

Anyway Julie’s presentation is below, it is well worth checking out.