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Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia Hardcover – October 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393082873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393082876
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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: Zoë Pagnamenta, Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (Oct.)

From Booklist

Everyone these days is familiar with smartphones and smart homes (even if most can’t afford the latter), but how many people are familiar with smart cities? While there is no master controller—at least not yet—who manipulates apps that keep a city running, increasingly such things as traffic patterns, sewage flow, and street lighting are all being guided by sophisticated software. In this far-reaching overview of all the ways computer technology is transforming life for today’s metropolitan dwellers, urban planning specialist Townsend takes a look at how modern cities around the world are upgrading their infrastructure for the Internet age. From New York to Beijing, city mayors are partnering with organizations like Siemens and IBM to strengthen networks, communications, and crisis-intervention tools such as monitoring flu outbreaks. Although the omnipresent surveillance that accompanies this interconnectivity may make some readers nervous, Townsend persuasively demonstrates how ubiquitous information resources can provide more protection, as it did in the Boston marathon bombing case, and facilitate a more comfortable, less stress-inducing city-living experience. --Carl Hays

More About the Author

Dr. Anthony Townsend serves as research director in the Technology Horizons Program for the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, an 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. Recent forecasts he has developed have addressed smart cities and Internet of Things, big data and inclusive urban development, a national innovation strategy framework for a major emerging economy, cloud computing and the restructuring of a major state court administrative agency, and the evolving role of science and technology parks in economic development.

Anthony is Senior Research Fellow at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management where he is investigating the impacts of mobile information services and communications on travel behavior and long-term shifts in mobility demands in megacities. Anthony's return to NYU resumes his earlier collaboration with the Taub Urban Research Center, where from 2000-2005 he directed research sponsored by the National Science Foundation on urban technology and the Department of Homeland Security on crisis communications.

Anthony is actively involved in policymaking and economic development organizations around the world. In 2004 he was a Fulbright Exchange Scholar at the Seoul Development Institute in South Korea, studying the social impacts of broadband on the Seoul metropolitan region. He was one of the original founders of NYCwireless, a pioneer in the municipal wireless movement that promotes the use of public-access Wi-Fi in the development of local communities. He testified at a United States Senate hearing on "Research Parks and Job Creation" on December 9, 2009, and serves on the advisory board of the International Association of Science Parks (www.iasp.ws). He has served on mayoral municipal broadband advisory boards in both New York City and San Francisco, and advises technology and economic development agencies in several global cities. He was recently named one of Planetizen's Leading Thinkers in Urban Planning & Technology and Top 100 Thinkers tracking the Internet of things by Postscapes. His first book, SMART CITIES: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia will be published by W.W. Norton & Co. in fall 2013.

Anthony holds a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master's in urban planning from New York University, and a B.A. in urban studies with a minor in physics from Rutgers University.

Twitter: @anthonymobile

Customer Reviews

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Required reading not only for urbanists, but for futurists as well.
Joel Natividad
Townsend provides details about the current involvement of industry in the development of smart cities.
Konstantinos Pelechrinis
It is hard enough to figure out how cities work, let alone make them smarter.
Chaos Pilot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joel Natividad on October 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Required reading not only for urbanists, but for futurists as well. Anthony Townsend has written the book, now literally and figuratively, on the "21st century's first new industry - the multi-trillion dollar Smart City industry."

At the dawn of this new century, three things have come together accelerating us into our urbanized future - for the first time in 2008, more people now live in cities; mobile computers (AKA smartphones) are now pervasive; and the Internet of Things is on its way to being ubiquitous. And instead of us living in remote islands telecommuting in this flat world, it has actually made Cities even more attractive as it provides the connective fiber to support a vibrant, social, digital nervous system.

And everyone who has anything to do with running cities has taken notice - from City Hall, to civic hackers, to urban planners, to academia, entrepreneurs, and of course - giant system integrators.

Going from the Crystal Palace in Victorian London, to the shiny skyscrapers of South Korea's "smart city from scratch" Songdo, and even touching on Gelernter's "Mirror Worlds", Asimov's psychohistory and
...Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Goldwyn on November 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Smart Cities excels when it connects abstract ideas about smart technology with cities. Instead of cheering blithely for technical fixes like congestion pricing, he shows how technology, cities, and people thrive when fine-grained details and context are considered. Dr. Townsend clearly sees many of the benefits of ascendant technological advances aimed at urban management and governance, but his critical approach is meant to slow us down before adopting cookie-cutter solutions imported from other cities and countries. For those interested in cities and policy, the lessons distilled here are applicable to other areas of the city.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Internicola on April 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I was greatly disappointed by this book as the concepts were either references to well known projects or the author's personal anecdotes. Though I cannot aptly describe what I desired from the book, I finished it feeling greatly unfulfilled.

From this I make two suggestions:

1) Do not buy this book, borrow it from your local library.
2) It serves as an adequate survey of the various movements tangential to the movement. As such, I would recommend it to individuals who are unfamiliar with the topic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chaos Pilot on January 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is hard enough to figure out how cities work, let alone make them smarter. But as Townsend puts it, making cities smarter, might be "humanity's last attempt to have our cake and eat it too". Townsend offers a comprehensive and insightful exploration of current approaches and the shortcomings, from global technology firms building NASA like command centers to civic hackers building on newly opened city data. And he offers historical context for previous attempt to reconcile top down architectures with more emergent approaches. Perhaps most importantly, he notes how citizens have never been more empowered to help make cities smarter. And makes a very strong case for why more of us need to engage in the process. Highly recommended.
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