Sharing economy platforms have become extremely popular in the last few years, and they have changed the way in which we commute, travel, and borrow things, among many other activities. Despite their popularity among consumers, such companies are poorly regulated. For example, Airbnb, one of the most successful examples of a sharing economy platform, is often criticized by regulators and policy makers. While, in theory, municipalities should regulate Airbnb through evidence-based policy making, in practice, they engage in a false dichotomy: some municipalities allow the business without imposing any regulation, while others ban it altogether. That is because there is no evidence upon which to draft policies.
Daniele Quercia and Giovanni Quattrone propose a means for gathering evidence by matching web data with official socioeconomic data. After crawling Airbnb data for the entire city of London, Daniele and Giovanni discovered where and when Airbnb listings are offered and, by matching such listing information with census and hotel data, determined the socioeconomic conditions of the areas that actually benefit from the hospitality platform. The reality is more nuanced than one would expect, and it has changed over the years. Airbnb demand and offerings have changed over time, and traditional regulations have not been able to respond to those changes. Daniele and Giovanni conclude by using data analysis to envision regulations that are responsive to real-time demands, contributing to the emerging idea of algorithmic regulation.
Daniele Quercia is currently building the Social Dynamics group at Bell Labs in Cambridge, UK. Daniele’s research focuses on the area of urban informatics and has received best paper awards from Ubicomp 2014 and ICWSM 2015 as well as an honorable mention from ICWSM 2013. Previously, he was a research scientist at Yahoo Labs, a Horizon senior researcher at the University of Cambridge, and a postdoctoral associate at MIT. Daniele has been named one of Fortune magazine’s 2014 data all-stars and has spoken about “happy maps” at TED. He holds a PhD from UC London. His thesis was sponsored by Microsoft Research and was nominated for BCS best British PhD dissertation in computer science.
Giovanni Quattrone is a lecturer in computing science in the Research group in applied software engineering in the Department of Computer Science at Middlesex University’s School of Science and Technology as well as an honorary member of the Department of Computer Science at University College London, UK. Previously, Giovanni was a research fellow in the Geospatial Analytics and Computing group at University College London and in the Department of Computer Science at University College London. He joined University College London thanks to the FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IEF Marie Curie Action.
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