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How the Gig Economy Can Help During Emergencies

Like everyone, we at the WeGoLook family are heartbroken by the wreckage and loss left behind by Hurricane Matthew. The aftermath and loss of life are unfathomable. And, flood waters continue to rise, extending Matthew's damaging effects.

With this in mind, WeGoLook is providing free Looks to anyone that is worried about their property in one of the affected areas of Hurricane Matthew. Please contact us for more details at community@wegolook.com, and we will be happy to assist.

With any tragedy come questions, many of which are a variation of: how can we respond more efficiently to such events to limit the loss of life and property?

Among gig economy companies, this has led to discovering new ways in which underutilized assets can be leveraged during natural disasters to help those in need. 

So let's take a break from the headlines concerning Hurricane Matthew's destructive path, and discuss how the gig economy can help during emergencies.

Can the Gig Economy Help?

Around the world, human beings encounter devastating natural disasters periodically. The painfully slow recovery from the South Asian tsunami a decade ago demonstrates the awesome and unstoppable power of natural forces. That calamity, stemming from the third largest recorded earthquake, destroyed numerous coastal communities in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.

What role will the rise of a new high tech "gig economy" play in future disaster situations? Over the past few years a host of innovative gig companies such as UberLyftAirbnbWeGoLook and more, have implemented cooperative online marketplaces that have restructured traditional industries. But, could these innovative models help improve relief efforts during disasters? Yes!

Simply put, the gig economy is premised on the ability to leverage under-used assets. These assets, can be used to assist in relief efforts.

The rise of the gig economy can significantly impact the modern world's response to public crises. Although this innovation clearly cannot counteract sudden impacts, such as tsunamis, earthquakes or volcanoes, could this human construct ease the process of ameliorating or recovering from natural disasters? Again, yes, and it already has.

Responding More Effectively to Hurricane Sandy

Airbnb, a company that enables customers to list vacant properties for rent, believes the sharing economy holds the potential to help allocate resources more effectively in disaster situations. For instance, after Hurricane Sandy impacted the Northeastern United States in 2012, Airbnb volunteered its platform for use by those affected. In the end, 1,400 Airbnb hosts donated their homes for use in the relief effort.

More recently, Airbnb developed a Disaster Relief platform that connects hosts with those affected during emergencies more seamlessly.

Shelter is the obvious companion to any disaster relief effort, and Airbnb has continued to support these initiatives. But, the story doesn't end there. There are many other ways the gig economy can help.

How the Gig Economy Can Continue to Help

The possible contribution of the gig economy is endless. Let's consider them now.

Tasking platforms like TaskRabbit or AskForTask can provide discounted or free labor in relief situations.

Uber and Lyft can provide transportation services for volunteers and victims. In fact, Uber announced during Tropical Storm Albert in 2014 that is has capped prices in affected areas, making transportation as affordable as possible. Lyft also capped fares during Hurricane Matthew.

Car-sharing platforms like Turo can provide people with vehicles when needed. Delivery platforms like Postmates and DoorDash could facilitate the delivery of medical supplies, food, and water.

Or, meal-sharing platforms like EatWith and Feastly can help bring food to those who have been displaced.

It seems when the gig economy has been termed the sharing economy, kindness ensues. 

How WeGoLook Can Help in Disaster Relief

Following as disaster event, gig economy companies with flexible workforces, like WeGoLook, can help insurance carriers meet policyholders and capture damage, data, photos, video, and even measurements. This would allow for a fast claim process, getting money to people faster. This, in turn, helps victims get back on their feet.

Or, WeGoLook workers can survey damage, sharing the data with local and government officials, residents, and media outlets.

The point is there is tremendous power in the underutilized assets of others. Whether it's property, vehicles, or labor of some sort, there is certainly a compelling place for the gig economy in disaster recovery.

Companies with gig platforms can contribute significantly to relief efforts by helping to counterbalance supply and demand imbalances with the provision of underused assets.

And, the good news is that the pace of innovation isn't slowing either. Technology will continue to produce enhanced information flows and asset allocation to assist disaster relief during the next decade.