San Francisco ties 'sharing economy' to disaster response
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee in mid-June announced an unprecedented new partnership between the city’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and BayShare, a sharing economy advocacy group in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to make the Bay Area the best place on the planet for sharing. BayShare was officially launched with this partnership.
Milicent Johnson, who co-founded BayShare last year with Jesse Biroscak during her work as Shareable’s Community Manager, shared the podium with Mayor Lee and others to explain the partnership. Its underlying goal is to harness the power of sharing to ensure the best response to future disasters in San Francisco: think Lyft drivers transporting maintenance personnel to priority areas, Yerdle users offering basic supplies to those in need neighborhood by neighborhood, and Airbnb enabling hosts to provide free accommodation to displaced people. The partnership is the first public initiative of Mayor Lee’s Sharing Economy Working Group, which Shareable helped the city launch last year.
The partnership launch event kicked off with an open brainstorm facilitated by IDEO's Alex Grishaver and Kate Lydon between representatives from sharing businesses; the city’s established emergency management community which includes San Francisco’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), the Interfaith Council, the Tenderloin Hunger Task Force, and the American Red Cross Bay Area; and representatives fromDEM. Shareable staff were active participants in the discussion, including Shareable’s co-founder Neal Gorenflo who, along with others, stressed the importance of pre-existing social connectedness at the neighborhood level to effective disaster response.
After introductions, DEM’s Alicia Johnson presented the city’s new SF72 portal with a touching video, elegant new logo, and a bold new strategy. SF72 is an initiative designed to prepare for the crucial first days after a serious disaster, and will serve as the ‘go to’ portal for support in the event of such an emergency. SF72 is clearly aligned with the aims of the sharing economy, stating that beyond stockpiling supplies, weathering a disaster is “about knowing your neighbors, lending a hand, and sharing your knowledge.”