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Le piattaforme estrattive: Uber Jump

Nel bel mezzo del deserto vidi per la prima volta queste bici e ne rimasi subito colpito, immagino a causa della forma, del colore e probabilmente, come scoprii più tardi, dal fatto che non avrebbero dovuto essere lì: dei ragazzi le avevano rubate e scelte come mezzo di trasporto in una città effimera chiamata Burning Man. Non mi soffermerò su come ci fossero arrivate, ricordo che per me il bike sharing elettrico, in questo caso di Uber era un’assoluta novità, mentre negli Stati Uniti era già molto diffuso.

Ottobre 2019, Roma

Neanche a farlo apposta, circa un mese dopo, non appena tornato a Roma, scopro che quest’ultima, forse proprio a causa della sua morfologia complessa era stata scelta Uber come prima città italiana per lanciare il servizio, complice anche il fatto che tutti gli altri competitor avevano lasciato terreno libero ritirandosi dalla Capitale.
In questo articolo proverò a spiegare perché Uber Jump è un caso paradigmatico per comprendere in che modo le cosiddette piattaforme estrattive stanno trasformando le nostre città, ma soprattutto in breve termine sovvertiranno anche i modelli economici che le sostengono.

Distribuzione della ricchezza

Il fattore più interessante a mio avviso, che fa di Uber Jump, un caso paradigmatico per comprendere in che modo le piattaforme estrattive stanno trasformando le nostre città ma soprattutto quali saranno gli scenari futuri è proprio il suo business model. L’infrastruttura di Uber Jump è formata dalle bici, dalla tecnologia utilizzata per gestire il noleggio ed i dipendenti che si occupano della ricarica e della manutenzione delle bici e del servizio clienti. La categoria dei dipendenti ha numeri piuttosto ridotti. Il problema principale, a mio avviso, riguarda proprio la distribuzione della ricchezza creata: Uber Jump non crea lavoro, non paga tasse, almeno in Italia, per essere concreti, non lascia nulla nella città in cui opera. Certo offre un servizio, ma solo nel centro storico e a prezzi che per molti sono proibitivi. È esattamente ciò che succederà quando la flotta di auto di Uber sarà composta da sole auto senza guidatore. La ricchezza prodotta dai suoi servizi non verrà distribuita tra i membri della comunità locale come sinora è accaduto, ma si concentrerà nelle mani degli investitori.

Dati, informazioni e modelli

Le parole sono importanti ed i nomi ancora di più. Ci vuole poco a capire che il segreto della “Uber Technology Inc” è la tecnologia invisibile che da una parte è il suo elemento fondante, dall’altra è così versatile che le permette di offrire servizio taxi (presto anche volanti), noleggiare bici e consegnare cibo. Alla base del successo di Uber c’è un algoritmo in grado di abbinare domanda (passeggero) e offerta (driver) e di calcolare il percorso più rapido per arrivare a destinazione. L’algoritmo è in grado di calcolare in anticipo anche il prezzo finale da corrispondere, grazie all’enorme mole di dati di cui Uber dispone. Il valore di Uber, o meglio, il modo attraverso cui Uber crea valore, è proprio il possesso dell’informazione. Uber conosce in tempo reale i dettagli del traffico e allo stesso tempo è in grado di prevedere la concentrazione della domanda in base agli storici. Uber è in grado di elaborare tutti i dati di cui dispone per creare modelli molto sofisticati.

Prosumer urbani

Tornando all’esempio di Uber Jump, l’utente diviene a tutti gli effetti quello che Alvin Toffler definì in “The third wave” un prosumer. Il neologismo è la crasi delle parole consumer e producer e sta ad indicare chi è allo stesso tempo produttore e consumatore di un bene o servizio. Nel caso di Uber Jump l’utente è allo stesso tempo un consumatore del servizio (e paga per averlo) e un produttore di dati, riferiti in particolare all’utilizzo, il tragitto, o ancora il punto d’arrivo. Uber Jump senza questi dati non potrebbe esistere, sono i dati prodotti dagli utenti che danno a questa azienda un grande valore, ma soprattutto le permettono di offrire un servizio sempre migliore, ad esempio riposizionando le bici durante la notte nelle zone in cui sono più richieste. Anche nel caso del servizio taxi, senza i dati prodotti dalle corse e dell’utilizzo degli utenti, Uber sarebbe poco più di un classico servizio taxi tradizionale. Ovviamente gli utenti non vengono minimamente ricompensati per il loro lavoro e per il plus valore generato. La figura del prosumer urbano è molto interessante, e nonostante praticamente chiunque abbia uno smartphone possa rientrare in questa categoria, in pochi sanno di appartenerci. I sensori custoditi nei nostri smartphone, in particolare il gps, producono dati costantemente che vengono regalati alle aziende dietro la maggior parte delle applicazioni installate sui nostri telefoni.

Visibilità e decoro urbano

Non molto tempo fa leggevo una riflessione, come spesso accade, tanto banale quanto perspicace: nessuna entità nella storia dell’umanità ha avuto la stessa visibilità che Google ha oggi. Se si ha un accesso ha internet, e dal 2018 più della metà della popolazione ricade in questa categoria, è praticamente impossibile non vedere quel logo in continuazione. Provare per credere. Se nel mondo digitale questo è in qualche modo comprensibile, nel mondo fisico siamo abituati ad altre forme di visibilità e pubblicità. Bene il caso di Uber Jump mostra come degli oggetti fisici disseminati in modo ubiquo nelle nostre città può rappresentare da una parte pubblicità gratuita per l’azienda in questione e dall’altra un grande problema di decoro urbano per la città, soprattutto quando si parla del centro storico di una delle città più suggestive al mondo (a questo proposito, se non vi aveva già colpito, vi consiglio di rivedere l’immagine scattata a via dei Fori Imperiali nella prima pagina).

Sostenibilità

Per concludere, un altro punto di vista interessante da cui guardare è il rapporto con l’ambiente. Le bici di Uber Jump sono state accolte molto positivamente perché considerate sostenibili e non inquinanti. Bisognerebbe però specificare che si tratta della polluzione urbana, infatti se è vero che non emettono sostanze inquinanti, è anche vero che l’energia elettrica che le ricarica è prodotta da fonti non rinnovabili e inquinanti, in poche parole la polluzione si sposta dalle città ai territori in cui l’energia elettrica viene prodotta. A livello sistemico perciò, la loro sostenibilità non è dimostrata, anzi come già accade in molte città americane con il servizio taxi, molto spesso la competitività ed i prezzi bassi la rendono un’alternativa preferibile ai mezzi pubblici.

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