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"Here in My Car" - Aggregate the Local

Driving cars can be fun. The personal freedom, the wind in your hair and the stereo switched up to 11 while singing to Gary Numan.

But some aspects of running a car are not so great. At that moment when you want to get rid of your old banger, it can be a hassle advertising it for sale or, in many cases, arranging for it to get carted off to the scrap yard.

Social entrepreneur Tom Chance has come up with an excellent not-for-profit venture - Give a Car. In the first six months of operation, the service has helped over three hundred vehicles get recycled, with the proceeds going to charity. Give a Car can do this because it has a deal with a single supplier who will pick up your vehicle and tow it away. In short, he has aggregated the hassle out of dumping a car, with the resulting value going to a good cause (of your own choice). I’d love to see our local authorities donating their collection of abandoned vehicles to Give a Car.

Another time when car ownership is a pain is when it comes to parking. With a sat-nav it may just be possible to locate a public or corporate car park. But, as Nesta points out in its publication Mass Localism, now is an emerging age of grass-roots, local social solutions. Parkopedia helps drivers to find a parking space according to postcode. Sure, it has details of council car parking and free spaces but, more importantly, it lets its users post details of locally available spaces, thereby creating a very granular, national map of parking spaces.

When the site launched, I was sceptical – why would anyone highlight their favourite parking space to others? But the genius of Parkopedia is that it lets users advertise the rental of their own private parking space to others. In my area of London, people are renting out their spaces for up to £150 per month to others because their space is near to public transport, enabling an easy and relatively green commute into the city. With a simple service built around social capital, a platform for individual commercial activity was born. Supply, meet demand – locally.

I don’t know where Parkopedia are going with their service, but it could just be a model that effectively meets both private and public needs.

Author

Jon Kingsbury

Jon Kingsbury

Jon Kingsbury

Director, Creative Economy Programmes

Jon led the inter-disciplinary team that designs, commissions and delivers multi-million pound innovation programmes that help the creative and digital economy.

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