It is one of life’s inconvenient truths that there is never an umbrella around when you need one. Except at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, where UmbraCity recently launched their umbrella sharing service. Students can now borrow and return umbrellas anytime from five fully automated kiosks — enabling them to stay dry around campus without having to lug the awkward item around with them all day.
UmbraCity operates similarly to bikeshare schemes now prevalent in cities — such as London’s ‘Boris Bikes’ currently sponsored by Santander. Users are given a membership card that enable them to borrow an umbrella from any UmbraCity kiosk. If they return it within two days, the service is completely free, otherwise there are late fees. Each umbrella has an unique ID, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be returned by the same person who borrowed it. Broken and damaged umbrellas can still be returned for free and are recycled into other products such as grocery bags.
The highly visible product has great potential for sponsorship and partnerships. Could this scheme work on a larger scale in other rainy cities?