Whether you turn first toward the family, friends, government, nonprofit groups, or business to solve society’s largest problems, you might find some interest in the latest work from William Eggers. Global research director for the public sector practice at Deloitte, Eggers has co-authored The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems. Eggers discussed key themes from that book with Mitch Kokai for Carolina Journal Radio.
Eggers: Let’s look at an issue like traffic congestion. OK. So how did we try to solve traffic congestion before? Well, we would either build more roads or build more public transit or have more public buses or so forth. Those all cost a lot of taxpayer money. And what would happen? Well, the roads would just fill up with more people. There wouldn’t be enough people on public transit and so forth.
Well, what’s happening now is a lot of entrepreneurs are going in and saying, “You know what? We’re going to use mobile apps, and we’ve got other ways of trying to solve those problems. We’re going to offer ridesharing services because the biggest waste in the transportation system is 85 percent of people driving to work by themselves. And that’s wasted resource in those things.”
So how do you connect people who need a ride with those who need a car? Well, you can use GPS and your mobile device. And now there are companies like Lyft and Sidecar and RelayRides and Uber, which are basically providing ridesharing services.
You’ve got other companies that are providing services — mobile parking helping you understand where is there a parking spot in a place like this. And so you add all of these up and traffic information services, and you could potentially reduce traffic congestion as much as you could essentially from a lot of traditional means. And what does it cost government? Almost nothing, right? Because they’re basically increasing throughput. And so for every major problem we’re seeing this whole group of kind of social entrepreneurs and other companies coming in and saying, “Other people see that as a problem. We see that as an opportunity to fix.”