Looking to borrow yoga mats or use a meeting space for the afternoon? Need free coaching to help you tell your nonprofit’s story? If you live within one of the municipalities governed by Kirklees Council in the UK, then you’re in luck — thanks to Comoodle, a just-launched, council-sponsored website that leverages the power of the sharing economy for all 440,000 residents in the council’s jurisdiction.
Like many public-sector leaders, Kirklees’ councilors are turning to innovation to help their local government provide more services with fewer resources. And Comoodle is helping them to do that by encouraging citizens to use public property, like building space and equipment, while also helping community groups and residents connect with each other to share their own resources.
Getting to launch has been a two-year process for the Comoodle project in Kirklees, which was a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge winner in 2014. A key part of developing Comoodle was building buy-in with the Kirklees Council itself, since the project involves directly offering city resources to residents. During this time, the team also developed a test site and piloted “offers” of different skills, spaces, and stuff — completing around 200 trades prior to the launch of the official site. The piloting process not only provided valuable insight into how the site works best, it taught the team, from the start, how Comoodle can help best help residents.
“We wanted to understand how to share things effectively,” Project Manager Mark White said last fall. “Over the summer, we loaned around 30 vans and 70 sets of sports equipment. We estimate over 12,000 residents have benefited from our activities and we learned a lot from that experience.”
While many of the site’s transactions so far could have been expected — litter pickers, gloves, and office space — the live pig a community theater group borrowed for a photo shoot proves that there are almost no limits to what people might find on Comoodle.