Author(s): Anthony M. Townsend
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.
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. 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.
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.
As technology barons, entrepreneurs, mayors, and an emerging vanguard of civic hackers are trying to shape this new frontier, Smart Cities considers the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings of them all while offering a new civics to guide our efforts as we build the future together, one click at a time.
"Townsend's interest in smart cities is more than merely technological: he offers an entertaining history of urban planning's visionaries and villains, the technological breakthroughs and the spectacular failures that brought us to this crossroads." -- New Scientist "Anthony Townsend's terrific book looks at the historic relationship of urban and industrial development to new technologies." -- Architecture Today "How tomorrow's open spaces evolve cannot be known but armed with this book, the reader will be bang up to date with who's who in the smart city boom, and what's happening where." -- Engineering & Technology "... fascinating stories of urban renewal and innovation from around the globe and packaged... into lessons that are neat and digestible." -- Slate
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.