Seoul seeks to become 'Sharing City'
By Kim Rahn
If you have books piled up at home that you enjoyed reading but now you don’t know what to do with them, you can put them in bookcases set up near the guard’s office of your apartment building. You can also borrow books from other residents.
This is the idea of the “Sharing City,” where people share things, space or information which they possess but are not using.
Seoul Metropolitan Government said Thursday it will promote the idea to raise the social value of individuals’ goods, space, time, information and abilities by facilitating the process of sharing without causing a burden.
“The world is paying attention to an economy based on sharing, not possession. By expanding the sharing culture which we used to have in the past, community culture can be revived. It can also help us save social expenses spent for safety and welfare,” Mayor Park Won-soon said in a press briefing.
The city will promote 20 projects first, including sharing cars, parking lots, tools, children’s clothes, and rooms, by setting up online platforms and offline facilities.
For example, on a website for parking lot sharing, residents can post when their parking lots remain empty _ mainly after they go to work and before coming home _ and other citizens visiting the areas can park their cars there during the vacant time and pay fees later.
“If 5 percent of such resident-only parking lots are shared, it is equivalent to building new parking spaces for 1,862 cars and can save 23.3 billion won,” Park said.
Another project is similar to a homestay. The mayor got the idea from some foreign websites, such as Airbnb, through which house owners offer unoccupied rooms to travelers.
“It is said Seoul is short of 15,000 rooms compared to the number of travelers. If 1,000 households participate in the homestay program, it is equivalent to establishing 20 hotels with 50 rooms each. It is also a way for retired baby boomers to earn money by making their houses available,” Park said.
Other programs include a village workshop where people can have their bikes or umbrellas fixed, learn to use tools, and rent electric drills, travel bags or camping supplies; car sharing; medical instrument sharing among city-run hospitals; and photo banks where citizens can use about 380,000 photos of Seoul which the city owns the copyright of, and can also upload their photos to share.
“Participation by citizens and various sectors is key to sharing projects. I believe citizens are fully capable of benefitting from it,” the mayor said.