In Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia, 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. As a new generation of technology barons, entrepreneurs, mayors, and civic coders try to shape our future, Smart Cities explores their motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings, offering a new civics for building communities: together, one click at a time.
A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of mega-regions of tens of millions of people. From the great industrial metropolises of the nineteenth century to today’ s sprawling megacities, wave after wave of new technologies have been invented to address the proliferating challenges posed by human settlements of ever-greater size and complexity.
In response, 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 Chicago, GPS sensors on snow plows feed a real-time “plow tracker” map that everyone can access. In Zaragoza, Spain, a “citizen card” can get you on the free city-wide Wi-Fi network, unlock a bike share, check a book out of the library, and pay for your bus ride home. In New York, a guerrilla group of citizen-scientists installed sensors in local sewers to alert you when stormwater runoff overwhelms the system, dumping waste into local waterways.
About the author
Anthony Townsend is Research Director in the Technology Horizons Program for the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, and independent research organization. His research focuses on the impact of new technology on cities, infrastructure and public institutions and the role of technology in economic development. He also holds the post of Senior Research Fellow at New York University’ s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management where he studies the impacts of mobile information services and communications on travel behavior and long-term shifts in mobility demands in megacities.
More information about the book can be found at www.smartcitiesbook.com