Sharing City Seoul Projects
Seoul Metropolitan goverment

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Urban Paradigm Shift With social problems having grown in complexity since the global financial crisis, governments and markets around the world are now facing issues that are increasingly difficult to resolve. The economic disparity between the rich and the poor is becoming more prominent and excessive consumption and the subsequent depletion of energy reserves and intensifying climate change are causing natural disasters such as typhoons and tsunamis. The value of common prosperity has been lost with the spread of materialism, leading to numerous social problems, such as rapid population aging, rising suicide rates, and increasing numbers of people dying alone, driven by deepening inequality and imbalance. In addition, chronic urban issues, such as traffic congestion, lack of parking spaces and housing, and environmental pollution, have become more serious than ever before. Under these circumstances, there is a dire need to come up with solutions that are entirely new and different from those of the past. While the city has focused heavily on economic growth and hardware development, it is now time to turn its sights toward investing in the development of software that will enrich the lives of its citizens. In addition, greater citizen engagement and cooperation between the public and private sectors is required to solve these social problems, or achieve social reform, rather than continuing to rely entirely on the government. Why the Sharing City Seoul Projects? First, sharing allows us to create significant benefits from only a small amount of resources by increasing the efficiency of their utilization while also helping the government provide a wide array of services to citizens, even on a tight budget. For instance, the construction of a new building requires significant investment, but sharing unused conference rooms and auditoriums in public buildings, which serve as ideal venues for meetings and gatherings for local citizens, requires hardly any investment at all. Second, sharing creates new jobs and value added. It makes it possible for anyone, with very little capital, to start a business that links people with idle resources with those who need such resources, creating new jobs in the process. Last but not least, sharing contributes to building positive human relationships and restoring communities to the meaningful places that they once were. Sharing brings people together and helps them communicate with one another through the common use of resources and services. It also spreads indirect reciprocity, as reputations formed through past interpersonal transactions are likely to have a positive effect on future transactions.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Sharing City Seoul Projects help form interpersonal networks and restore community through sharing and social interaction. The promotion of the sharing economy and support for collaborative consumption contribute to job creation, ultimately vitalizing the urban economy. Collaboration among civil society, businesses, and the public sector maximizes the utilization of resources.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Seoul City set to shift the paradigm of the city as “a platform for sharing” Seoul City is incorporating the concept of sharing into all of its spaces, such as parks, squares, and roads, as well as high-speed public Wi-Fi access. In the city that boasts the world’s most advanced IT technology and Internet network, citizens are now sharing their information and experiences with others in real time. Nanum Car and shared parking, Seoul City’s representative models of the sharing economy Seoul City’s Nanum Car (car sharing) and shared parking projects are improving urban transport in the city. The most successful model of the sharing economy in Seoul is the car sharing company SOCAR. As one shared car can replace 16.8 owned cars, car sharing has the potential to solve numerous parking and environment-related problems. Seoul City’s car sharing project stands to become a representative model of the sharing economy, as it achieves a perfect marriage of public and private resources. Also, it is thanks to the parking spaces secured by Seoul in public buildings and other areas throughout the city for the Nanum Car project that car sharing businesses such as SOCAR have been able to successfully operate their businesses. Intergenerational home sharing, a new housing model “Sharing” is now a buzzword in the field of architecture, with home sharing having become a new, popular housing trend among young people. Seoul City created the intergenerational home sharing program to match senior citizens who own homes with unused rooms with college students in need of reasonably priced housing, thereby helping reduce elderly homeowners’ sense of isolation and providing them with regular income generated through renting out rooms while mitigating the shortage of student housing. At first, it was challenging to get eligible seniors to take a chance on trusting their potential housemates, but they finally opened their minds and agreed to participate in the program. Opening of public spaces as the most effective way of eliminating perceptual and relational boundaries Seoul City has opened the basement of the Seoul City Hall building to the public. Called “Citizens Hall,” the basement serves as an excellent venue for citizens to meet other people, enjoy diverse cultural events, attend the Seoul Idea Expo, shop at Seoul Market, and hold wedding ceremonies. Seoul City is also expanding the shared public facilities program to include district offices, community centers, schools, and religious facilities.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Previously, the sharing economy was considered to be within the realm of the private sector only, but Seoul City opened it up to the public, creating the world’s first model of public-private partnership and solving various problems by maximizing the use of both public and private resources without increasing government spending. The concept of sharing has been attracting increasing attention since the global financial crisis in 2008. However, what is noteworthy here is that it was Seoul City, rather than a private organization, that took the initiative in implementing the sharing economy strategies. Now, Seoul City is carrying out and expanding its Sharing City Seoul projects in partnership with citizens and local districts. Also, Sharing City Seoul Projects serves as a model of public-private cooperation. Seoul City has encouraged both the public and private sectors to utilize available resources in diverse ways, such as turning the rooftops of high-rises into vegetable gardens or bee farms and sharing travel stories with others on experience sharing sites, thereby helping solve urban problems in areas related to traffic, tourism, and the environment.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
In 2012, Seoul City announced the Sharing City Seoul Initiative, the first of its kind in the world. Since then, it has implemented a wide range of sharing projects designed to improve various aspects of citizens’ daily lives, such as the opening of unused public facilities for use as venues for meetings and conferences to over 100 million Seoulites. Over the last three years, Seoul City has made 1,145 spaces available to the public on over 230,000 occasions and secured the participation of 25 district offices, offices of education, and schools in offering a wide range of services for citizens, including shared parking (1,267 spaces), trading of used children’s clothing and toys (290,000 items), tool rental (168 locations), and intergenerational home sharing (267 seniors). Moreover, the city continues to support these projects, helping them expand to local communities. From among numerous applicants, 82 companies and organizations that provide services beneficial to citizens have been designated by Seoul City as “Seoul City Sharing Enterprises,” which are permitted to use the “Sharing City Seoul” brand and granted financial support worth roughly KRW 1 billion. With the city’s administrative and financial support, some of the Seoul City Sharing Enterprises have grown in size over 10-fold. To give an example, the number of users registered with SOCAR, a car sharing company, increased from 40,000 in 2013 to 2.5 million in 2016, while the number of accommodations registered with KOZAZA, a shared lodging platform, increased from 1,000 in 2013 to 5,500 in 2016.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1. Creation of Sharing City Seoul, preparation for establishment of institutional foundation, and discovery of sharing projects (September 2012 to June 2013) A legislative body representing Seoul citizens, Seoul Metropolitan Council enacted, with the consent of citizens, the “Ordinance on the Promotion of Sharing” (December 2012) to prepare the institutional foundation for the promotion of a private sector as a part of public policy. It then launched the “Sharing Promotion Committee (March 2013),” a private-public governing body, and the “Sharing Hub (June 2013),” an online platform, and designated 37 Seoul City Sharing Enterprises and organizations to receive government support. 2. Period of growth through diversification and public hearings for improvement Seoul City spread the Sharing City Seoul projects to 20 local districts in Seoul and held three meetings and five seminars to revise the laws that were impeding the program by launching the “Advisory Committee on the Improvement of the Sharing Program.” 3. Period of Adjustment and Expansion In April 2015, Seoul City unveiled its plan for the second phase of the Sharing City Seoul projects and promoted sharing in partnership with 25 local district offices, offices of education, and schools. In addition, it secured the participation of 29 local governments (including three metropolitan governments and 26 primary local governments) in a conference on cooperation among sharing cities. Having designated 92 businesses and organizations as Seoul City Sharing Enterprises, Seoul City is now beginning to see some businesses, such as SOCAR, grow in size over 10-fold in only four years.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
After its announcement of the Sharing City Seoul Initiative in 2012, Seoul City began focusing on the establishment of infrastructure for the initiative. Toward this end, it held two public hearings—one for the Sharing City Seoul projects and the other for the enactment of the related ordinance. Based on the opinions expressed by citizens at these hearings, Seoul City enacted an ordinance for the promotion of sharing and sought out ways in which sharing businesses and organizations could continue to provide sharing services. At first, the city had difficulty forming a committee, due to people’s unfamiliarity with the concept of sharing, but it soon succeeded in launching a sharing promotion committee consisting of consultants, lawyers, and professors interested in introducing sharing programs. In the first phase of the initiative, the committee consisted of 14 members, but that increased to 15 members in the second phase. Also, it formed an advisory committee (in areas related to the economy, law, insurance policy, taxation, and construction/apartments) tasked with improving the outdated systems that were hindering the growth of Seoul City Sharing Enterprises. In order to spread the Sharing City Seoul projects citywide, Seoul City added “sharing activity” to the evaluation of local districts as an incentive. As a result, by the end of December 2016, there had been significant increases in the numbers of Nanum Car users (13 million), districts participating in the shared parking project (17), instances of citizens using the public facility rental service (130,000 times), districts offering the used children’s clothing and toy trading service (20), and tool rental locations (128 in 23 districts). Seoul City also created the “Sharing Hub” online platform, in partnership with the private company Code, to more effectively inform citizens of Seoul City’s sharing projects and disseminate the latest news on the sharing economy at home and abroad.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
① Nanum Car, pioneering the change in car use and growing as Seoul City’s leading sharing project According to research conducted by the Seoul Institute, one shared car replaces the demand for 8.5 owned cars and reduces emissions from cars by roughly 486 tons annually. This means that one shared car cuts greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 0.3 tons (or 60 pine trees) every year. ② “Public Refrigerator,” a small-scale sharing program with a big heart carried out in some districts in Seoul (Jongno-gu, Songpa-gu, and Geumcheon-gu) In the alleys of some districts in Seoul, pubic refrigerators have been installed to allow residents to share their homemade kimchi and other preserved foods, foodstuffs, and fruit. Merchants at local markets have also been known to share food products that are not sellable but too good to throw away, hoping to help their neighbors in need, such as elderly people living alone. For instance, the public refrigerators in Jamsilbon-dong, Songpa-gu, have been filled with 1,500 food items worth KRW 4.76 million, benefitting a total of 316 households. The food sharing program has also been found to be a good way of allowing the district office to identify any underprivileged citizens who have fallen through the cracks of the national welfare programs. As a result, these public refrigerators are serving as a new welfare model of “warm-hearted capitalism” based on the voluntary participation of citizens. Growth-oriented capitalism has created some serious social problems, such as income polarization and wealth inequality, and the government lacks the funds necessary to resolve such issues or meet the demand for welfare. In this respect, the sharing economy, which operates and thrives on the voluntary donations of citizens, can serve as a means of realizing sustainable welfare. Sharing, rather than owning, commodities or services has the potential to not only give meaning back to the word “community” but promote growth by reducing waste, which explains why TIME magazine included “sharing” on its list of “Ten Ideas That Will Change the World (2011).” Also, with the rapid growth of single-person households, demand for the sharing economy is likely to increase significantly in the near future.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
In no more than 300 words, describe the main problems that were encountered during the implementation and how these were addressed and overcome. Civil servants found it difficult to formulate and promote sharing-based policies, while citizens, who were accustomed to consumer culture and ownership, found the idea confusing. At first, some people even harshly criticized sharing as a “communist idea.” However, Seoul City continued its efforts to persuade citizens concerning the value of sharing as a time-honored Korean tradition and a compelling solution to the many problems that large cities are facing, such as excessive consumption, environmental pollution, human alienation, and loss of social relationships, as by-products of rapid economic growth. Seoul City created the Seoul City Social Innovation Division, which is in charge of promoting the Sharing City Seoul Projects, and the Sharing Promotion Committee, which is tasked with supporting the division. It then contacted press outlets, such as ChosunBiz and The Guardian, and asked them to cover the projects, resulting in the articles “Shared Parking, Home Sharing for a Better Seoul as a Sharing City (ChosunBiz, September 14, 2015)”, “Obsession for Ownership Disappearing Fast (ChosunBiz, September 16, 2015),” and “Sharing Enterprises Can Solve Social Problems (ChosunBiz, September 17, 2015).” In addition, to celebrate the third anniversary of the Sharing City Seoul projects, Seoul City held the Sharing Economy Festival, where 32 local companies, 10 local governments, and over 5,000 citizens were able to experience the latest trends of the sharing economy.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Establishing a project budget is a daunting task, but utilizing resources in smart ways is not. For instance, building a parking structure is incredible costly, but renting parking spaces in nearby apartment complexes that are empty during the day costs nothing at all. Moreover, through the application of advanced smartphone technology, users are able to easily find places to park their cars near their workplaces. Statistics show that one out of every four Seoulites owns a car. However, 770,000 cars, or 35 percent of all cars owned by Seoul citizens, are driven less than 7,000 kilometers a year, and 330,000 cars, or 15 percent, are used only on weekends. With car sharing, however, citizens no longer have to own cars or spend large sums of money on maintenance. Moreover, by using a car sharing service, they can contribute to relieving traffic congestion and reducing air pollution. To achieve these aims, SOCAR started a car sharing service in partnership with Seoul City, and offers free or discounted services to low-income citizens or people with physical disabilities. Anyone, including young people who are struggling financially, can access cars at affordable prices whenever they need them. According to a survey of 2,500 Seoulites conducted online in May 2016 regarding their awareness of Seoul City’s 16 Sharing City Seoul projects, including Nanum Car, nine out of 10 respondents said they were aware of at least one of the projects, and 82 percent of those who had used one of the services answered that they were satisfied with it.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Although Seoul City launched the Sharing City Seoul projects, it minimized its involvement by taking a bottom-up approach, allowing the projects to be led by the private sector and citizens. It did, however, carefully document all records on the seminars, conferences, and campaigns held in relation to the Sharing City Seoul projects, and made them accessible to the public through the online Sharing Hub platform and various social media channels. In doing so, Seoul City utilized the public data to support citizens’ efforts to create new businesses, such as workshop rental, social dining, and coworking space rental businesses, and kept all the information open to the public up to date, thereby enhancing the transparency and responsibility of the Seoul City administration.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Social dining, public refrigerators, and hanbok sharing programs, among others, spreading a culture of sharing Seoul City has installed shared kitchens and public refrigerators in shelters for underprivileged citizens living alone in dosshouses, which have no home appliances, such as refrigerators and washers, and are vulnerable to numerous problems caused by poor hygiene, contamination, and unhealthy living conditions, such as food poisoning in the summer and frostbite in the winter. With the installation of such public kitchens and refrigerators, communities began to form as more people started communicating with one another, reducing their feelings of isolation. In addition, Seoul City repaired and made alterations to hanbok donated by citizens and rented them out so that they could be used by children of low-income families.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Seoul Metropolitan goverment
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   namji kim
Title:   manager  
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Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   namji@seoul.go.kr  
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