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Denmark’s second largest city explores the sharing economy
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Denmark’s second largest city explores the sharing economy

| Text: Marie Preisler, photo: Aarhus municipality

Citizens of Aarhus municipality can move around in shared electric cars and cultivate the soil in new city gardens on municipal land. The government has designated the municipality as a pilot city for the sharing economy, and a range of activities are already up and running.

People from near and far will visit Aarhus in 2017, because the city is the current European city of culture, and this leads to an increased demand for accommodation and transport. That is why the city in cooperation with the Ministry of Business and Growth is now looking at what opportunities the sharing economy presents in the following four areas:

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Employment
  • Citizenship

Car-share and city gardens

 

The citizens of Aarhus have been given access to some 100 shared electric cars, and the first 20 of them are already driving around the city streets. It is expected that one shared electric car can replace five private vehicles, and reduce both emissions and traffic levels in the city. But this could also lead to some of the city’s many cyclists opting to drive a car rather than getting on their bike. 

Aarhus car

As a result, the municipality will carry out an evaluation of how the initiative influences the city’s traffic patterns, explains Line Gerstrand Knive, a consultant at Aarhus Municipality’s department for business and city development

The municipality is also testing several ways of strengthening the sense of citizenship, by sharing some of the municipality’s own resources with the citizens. It has allowed some of the city’s entrepreneurs to use some of the municipality’s temporary buildings, and it has established city gardens for citizens on municipal ground.

“The experience so far is that the city gardens represent a really good investment for the municipality. Physically inactive people have become more physically active while tending to a municipal city garden, and it saves resources in the health sector,” says Line Gerstrand Knive.

Big potential

The municipality has also begun mapping how many of the city’s citizens are renting out their homes via sharing economy portals like Airbnb, and what impact this has on tourism and residential areas in the city. The conclusion so far is that there are limited problems, says Line Gerstrand Knive.

In other big European cities property investors buy up houses and flats just to rent them out via Airbnb, but nearly all of Aarhus’ properties are covered by legislation demanding owners to live in them themselves. Aarhus municipality will also test future guidance from the Ministry of Business and Growth for how job centres can give people on unemployment benefit guidance on regulations covering sharing economy activities.

The municipality’s general attitude to the sharing economy is open and positive, says Line Gerstrand Knive:

“Aarhus municipality views the sharing economy as an important element of the general digital adaptation which the municipality is carrying out. Digital transformation is necessary as the demography is changing and fewer people must fund the needs of a growing elderly population.”

The Danish government wants Denmark to be at the forefront of the sharing economy and new digital solutions, and experiences from Aarhus municipality will be taken into account when the government presents its strategy for the sharing economy later this year.

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