There have been widespread reports recently from Forbes, the Financial Times, the Economist magazine and others on the emergence of a "sharing economy" - businesses that make money by operating online markets that enable peer-to-peer transactions between their customers.
Examples include Zopa, whose UK customers lend each other over £100 million every year, Air B'n'B who helped 5,000 New Yorkers to collectively earn $632 million in 2012 by renting spare rooms to travellers, and Casserole Club in London who connect people who are willing to cook for a neighbour with people who aren't able to cook for themselves. Some of these schemes have great potential to promote healthy communities and provide employment opportunites.
One of the often over-looked impacts of these business models is the great complexity they create in requirements for transport. Transactions that have previously been mediated by businesses who provide integrated transport services are increasingly carried out between individuals who make their own transport arrangements.
Many urban designers argue that some transport infrastructures in today's cities, particularly major road and rail networks, impair quality of life and contribute to inequality. The cities of the future will only be better, fairer places to live if we change the way we plan, design and implement the transport services to support the growing sharing economy carefully.
I think the only way to do that is by looking at trends across technology, urban design, public policy, economic development and transport to imagine how we might live, work and socialise in home, in communities and across cities in the future; and to design digital and transport systems together to support us.
I've written an article describing what I think such cities might look like in my blog; I would be interested to hear your opinions.