A new advisory group will attempt to solve some of the municipal regulatory challenges presented by ride-sharing platforms and other sharing economy-based businesses.

The National League of Cities (NLC) has formed the Sharing Economy Advisory Network. The group will establish best practices that municipalities can use to address the growing number of companies using the sharing economy business model.

The network will feature participation from Lyft, the University of Pennsylvania, Peers, Feastly, Uber, Getaround, Storefront, Airbnb, Tilt and other policy leaders, according to Tom Martin, a spokesman for the NLC. The group conducted its first meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 13, in San Francisco.

In an email to Government Technology, Brooks Rainwater, director of city solutions and applied research for the NLC, said the full membership of the network will be assembled in November at the organization’s Congress of Cities conference in Austin, Texas. In addition to ride-sharing issues, the network will also research the economic impacts of sharing, workforce and equity issues, sustainability implications of sharing, and the effect the sharing economy might have on government operations.

“Cities are looking for ways to update and improve their current regulatory framework to ensure that regulations like safety and health protect residents, while at the same time supporting the growth of new businesses,” said Clarence Anthony, executive director of the NLC, in a statement. “It is imperative for cities to learn how this industry operates and discover ways to engage in order to support these new modes of doing business and to create jobs.”

Emily Castor, Lyft's director of community relations, added that it will be easier for communities to take advantage of the benefits the sharing economy provides if there are consistent regulations across the board.

Regulating transportation network companies such as Lyft and Uber has been controversial. While some cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago have passed legislation that regulates ride-sharing activities, others like Annapolis, Md., force the businesses to register as taxicab companies.

Rainwater said the research component on ride-sharing and transportation network companies should be completed by early next year. The preliminary results will be shared at the Congress of Cities conference in 2015, during a workshop on the sharing economy.

“Starting with ride-sharing, we will work together to provide city leaders with the needed information to help them make decisions in this burgeoning field,” Rainwater said. “We are surveying city leaders, examining best practices in communities nationwide, and interviewing leaders in the field. At the end of the day, we want to provide resources to cities so they can lead on this important issue.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.