The recent decade has witnessed a major shift in the way people deal services and goods. This shift has been enabled by the emergence of a new form of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) business exchange, known as Sharing Economy (SE). This on-demand, convenient, and sustainable form of resource consumption has attracted consumers and investors around the globe, providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals in low-income and marginalized communities to find employment, generate extra income, increase reciprocity, and access resources that are unattainable otherwise.
This project will utilize SE as a vehicle for fostering economic growth, promoting ecological sustainability, and building social capital among disadvantaged communities in the city of Baton Rouge, the political capital of the State of Louisiana. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the economic gap between rich and poor in Baton Rouge is the fourth-highest in the country, with close to 25% of Baton Rouge population living below the poverty line. To achieve our goals, we propose an integrative research and community engagement plan that will use methods of quantitative and qualitative research to, a) identify success factors of SE in our target communities, b) explore the landscape of underutilized services and assets, c) identify fundamental shortcomings and socio-technical barriers to adaptation, and d) investigate mitigation strategies for these problems. Based on this foundational information, the project will deliver novel systematic solutions to fundamental requirements engineering and software design problems in the context of SE. These solutions will enable software engineers to design SE systems that are optimized to help individuals in resource-constrained communities to overcome social barriers and move up the economic ladder.
The project will further facilitate interdisciplinary research by providing researchers, across a broad range of disciplines (e.g., social, technical, economic, and legal), with automated frameworks for analyzing the complex and increasingly coupled relations between the human, market, and technology components of SE. The project will also foster community engagement by establishing partnerships between stakeholders from local communities, local organizations of social work, researchers from local minority-serving institutions (MSI), K-12, and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups.