Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony Townsend
“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.”
-Zoë Pagnamenta, Publishers Weekly
Creator of I Quant NY
Discussion leader Ben Wellington is the creator of I Quant NY, a data science and policy blog that focuses on insights drawn from New York City’s public data. Ben is a contributor to The New Yorker, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the City & Regional Planning program at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.