Smart Cities

Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia

by Anthony M. Townsend

Number of pages: 416

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

BBB Library: Technology and Globalization

ISBN: 978-0393349788

About the Author

Anthony M. Townsend is an American technology consultant. Townsend specializes in research on the implications of technology on cities and public institutions.


Editorial Review

Cities worldwide are deploying technology to address both the timeless challenges of government and the mounting problems posed by human settlements of previously unimaginable size and complexity. In Smart Cities, urbanist and technology expert Anthony Townsend takes a broad historical look at the forces that have shaped the planning and design of cities and information technologies from the rise of the great industrial cities of the nineteenth century to the present.

Book Reviews

“Smart Cities is a roller coaster read of the history and future of the smart cities movement… This is a book that… charts the evolution of smart cities as the author has seen them being built from the ‘trenches’, so-to-speak. It is a book that is written not by a computer scientist who has come to cities with an armoury of tools and models in search of a problem, but by someone who knows a lot about the history of cities and planning and is able to put all this in context. This is why the book must be read by planners as much as by modellers and systems people, why the messages it portrays are so important to know how to respond to this great wave of technology that is sweeping over society and is inclined to sweep both good and old things away as much as to engender the shock of the new.” — Smart Cities

“Anthony Townsend provides an interesting glimpse into the roots and foundations of smart cities, and how they many small independent seeds of urban goodness developed into integrated and inter-connected services and solutions that now march forward as global initiatives. While we expect new infrastructure to be smart, at least smarter than what preceded it, the true test of smart cities is tied to citizen engagement, citizen participation and linking people into technological innovations. Are we there yet? Probably not, but as Townsend suggests, it is not an endpoint, but smart cities are more like a journey. The ride matters more than the destination and this book helps you to see and understand the ride better.” — 3D Visualization World

“Smart Cities is full of examples of potential for technologically connected cities of the future, and Townsend is very knowledgeable in this area. He speaks widely and often on the topic, so check online and his site for his lectures and presentations on the topic. Townsend has established himself as a leading thinker in this area, and Smart Cities shows a wealth of researched knowledge that will only continue to expand as municipal governments continue to experiment with what changes and additions to existing infrastructure have staying power and convey some benefit to the growing number of people who choose an urban lifestyle.” — PopMatters

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Wisdom to Share

Every city contains the DNA of its own destruction—some existing fissure chat, under pressure, can erupt into conflict or cascade into collapse.

Economic shocks have an uncanny ability to distill impractical but promising new technologies into commercial successes.

“Collaborative technologies” offer cities another way to make smarter use of resources, smarter ways of collecting data, and smarter ways to make decisions.

The extent of the role played by social media in the 2011 urban uprisings of the Arab Spring has been hotly debated. But Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were a mere sideshow to the torrent of text messages that turned angry crowds into smart mobs.

The economic impact of mobile phones has been transformative for the world’s urban poor. A 2009 World Bank study of 120 countries found that for every ten percentage points increase in the penetration of mobile phones, GDP increased by 0.8 percent.

As cities bring people together to live, work, and play, they amplify their ability to create wealth and ideas. But scale and density also bring acute challenges: how to move around people and things; how to provide energy; how to keep people safe. “Smart cities” offer sensors, “big data,” and advanced computing as answers to these challenges.