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unCon 2014 Session: On Demand Mobile Services – Adoption, Regulation, and The Future

Blog post by: Rick Dionne
During
the first session of the Innovation 2014 unConference, Faizeen Khandaker led an
intimate discussion on the challenges and intricacies surrounding On Demand
Mobile Services (ODMS) such as Uber, especially as proliferation continues in
the long term.
Mr.
Khandaker opened the session by posing the question of how ODMS solutions can
achieve long-term success, and what government and market responses are necessary
in an increasingly mobile world. Regulation was discussed at length, with the
general consensus being that the government must be careful not to overregulate
new technologies: market disruptions should be welcomed, not precluded.
Luckily, as Mr. Khandaker pointed out, regulatory bodies have no incentive to
get involved until a service reaches a high level of use or begins to accrue
significant revenue, allowing startups to get a foot in the door before running
into regulations.
Prompted
by the case of Uber, the ODMS transportation solution which has been widely
adopted by consumers but criticized for a lack of robust quality control and
abuse prevention mechanisms, Aaron Carty, legislative consul to the
Massachusetts State Senate, observed that government regulatory efforts are
always playing catchup. Faced with a desire both to promote innovation and
effective solutions and to ensure the safety and security of citizens, Mr.
Carty noted that legislators will tend to avoid regulation until public outcry
makes it necessary. This reality is both good and bad: though it allows
companies to more freely pursue novel solutions including ODMS, it means that
cases of abuse in the time between widespread adoption and government
regulation are likely.
On
Demand Mobile Services have many applications and opportunities for growth. Mr.
Khandaker identified health services, his area of expertise, as an area in
which government policy obstructs market growth. He and Mr. Carty agreed that
HIPAA, the federal law governing health privacy, is outdated and
counterproductive. If government can reconsider its regulations to better match
consumer interests, it can open up this market space to improve the experience
of patients and doctors alike.

ODMS is
a fascinating field, one which in many ways represents the future of consumer
experience. With technology growing more and more ubiquitous, we must consider
the implications, legal, moral, and technical, of these innovative crowd-based
solutions. Uber and Airbnb will almost definitely still be around five, even
ten years from now: the question is how we can adapt our laws and customs to
incorporate these businesses in the future.

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