Networked Entrepreneurial Living

Keywords: Peer-to-peer; collaborative economy; microbusinesses; innovation, freelance workers; prosumers; diversity and creativity.

Key emission reductions: Efficient use of assets; decentralised renewable electricity trading; a culture of innovation and collaboration finding novel sustainability solutions

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This is a city that has become highly self-organised in the sharing and exploitation of excess capacities of various assets (e.g. vehicles, spaces, consumer goods, time and skills). It is a nimble and dynamically changing economy, where there is a great diversity of experimentation and innovation through open source, open data and open platforms. Many workers are freelancers. There has been a rapid growth in agile microbusinesses that produce innovative technologies, products and services to exploit renewable energy and to increase resource and material efficiencies.

All new businesses are supported by informal, digitally connected networks. Individuals have also taken up such technologies to become ‘prosumers’ and actively engage with businesses in the design of products. In this new market context the value of information is rising rapidly compared to materials. Many material products are now manufactured within a distributed system involving open source design studios and an extensive network of local 3D printing fabrication workshops.

Whilst non-profit social entrepreneurialism is strong, small business is still primarily profit oriented. Big business and government have significantly less influence in this city where citizens take pride in an entrepreneurial do-it-yourself approach to making life fulfilling and sustainable.

“…in 2040 parts of the city are doing very well, parts of the city are self-reliant, increasingly having shifted to distributed or autonomous systems that allow them to regulate their own consumption and supply of things like food but also energy and water. And the risk is that 2040 has these almost breakaway communities that have shaken loose of the old and aging central infrastructure that we can no longer afford to upgrade.

So, it’s effectively been a process of transitioning out of central to these autonomous types of systems. It’s now easy to treat our own water and our waste and that’s able to be recycled into our urban agriculture, but not everywhere. So, the biggest problem in 2040 is the idea that the desirable aspects of it are not distributed evenly.” -Tim Horton, Registrar of Architects Registration Board, New South Wales

The 80% reduction on greenhouse emissions have arisen from various forms of collaborative production and consumption, including: renewable energy (particularly electricity), diverse shared transport systems; inventive use of and reuse of spaces; a vibrant repair sector; and local manufacturing. Production and storage of electricity from a wide range of technologies form the basis of many small enterprises, so that this is now highly decentralised; there is also peer-to-peer energy trading through local micro-grids. Information systems for managing energy, water, food, waste and transport systems are highly advanced. Citizens are energy and resource savvy, relying on various digital monitoring and feedback technologies and online information sharing to make better consumption choices. Travel has also been reduced due to the increased use of online digital interactivity; local small businesses and freelance workers operate from home and public spaces.

Economic identity is defined by: agile, entrepreneurial microbusinesses; freelancers collaborating on a project basis; value is generated through manipulation of information and creation of information rich products and services. City governance is evolving around ideas of open source democracy.