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Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopiaby Anthony M. Townsend
Synopses & Reviews
Today, more people live in cities than in the countryside; mobile broadband connections outnumber fixed ones; and machines outnumber people on a new Internet of Things. In this era of mass urbanization and technological ubiquity, what happens when computers take over the city? Urban planning expert Anthony Townsend explores this question in Smart Cities, a broad look at the people and historical forces that have transformed the design of cities and information technologies. 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. 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.
"Technology forecaster Townsend defines a 'smart city' as an urban environment 'where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects, and even our bodies to address social, economic, and environmental problems.' They're already being made, usually piecemeal but sometimes wholesale (as in planned automated cities like South Korea and Cisco's somewhat ill-fated Songdo), and involve refashioning old systems like the electricity grid as well as deploying the latest infrastructure — such as the network of radio waves operating our wireless gadgets — and much more. Of interest to urban planners and designers, tech leaders, and entrepreneurs, Townsend's globe-hopping study examines the trend toward smart cities while addressing pros and cons, as top-down corporate models develop alongside communitarian and entrepreneurial initiatives. Skeptical of the vision and influence of tech giants, Townsend points to smaller stories in making the case that local ingenuity should lead the way, albeit in concert with the corporate innovation and power. The author's perspective is based partly on direct experience (among other things, he was an organizer, in 2002, of NYCwireless, an open-source group distributing free Wi-Fi access in Manhattan). The autobiographical passages and close readings of other scrappy innovators are the most enjoyable part of this impressive survey, which tries to secure democratic impulses amid a new gold rush. Agent: ZoÃ« Pagnamenta, ZoÃ« Pagnamenta Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future.
We live in a world defined by urbanization and digital ubiquity, where mobile broadband connections outnumber fixed ones, machines dominate a new "internet of things," and more people live in cities than in the countryside.
About the Author
Anthony Townsend is an advisor to industry and government at the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future and directs urban research at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
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