Redesigning Regulation for the Sharing Economy

Co-Design for Effective Regulation


The rising popularity of the sharing economy is not only disrupting existing markets, like transportation and accommodation, but it is also forcing governments to rethink regulation for these and other affected markets. It’s an issue that is being fiercely discussed in the media, in everyday conversations and in city councils across the globe. Many strong opinions and solutions have been brought forward, but do we really know what’s going on? Regulation remains elusive as it is a complex problem without an easy solution.


The Sharing Economy Public Design project, a partnership between MaRS Solutions Lab, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, applies a design perspective to this complex problem. By looking at regulation from the perspective of users, and by thoroughly mapping out the user experience, we were able to gain a much deeper understanding of the challenges at hand. We interviewed over 136 individuals, including taxi drivers, uberX drivers, hotel managers, Airbnb hosts and many others who are subject to regulation. We also convened 100 relevant stakeholders to validate our analysis and help co-design possible solutions. We brought together regulators from all three levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal), industry representatives (e.g., from the taxi and hotel industry), sharing economy companies (e.g., Uber, Airbnb), insurers, agencies like Metrolinx, and other experts. In three different workshops these individuals helped to develop ideas for effective regulation, which can be defined as regulation that creates public value, supports innovation and reduces administrative burden.


The report, available for download below, highlights the findings from our research and workshops in both the transportation and accommodations sectors. Within the report, we present a 5-step framework for cities to develop a sharing economy strategy. For the accommodations sector, six key implications for regulation have been identified, and the report suggests way to solve them. For transportation, our research has identified seven key issues and 24 solutions.

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Sharing Economy Public Design Report