About the Book

Smart Cities cover

An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future.

“Authoritative, information-packed must-read
for urban policymakers.”

-Kirkus (Starred Review)

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.

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Acclaim for SMART CITIES:

“Townsend has collected fascinating stories of urban renewal and innovation from around the globe and packaged them into lessons that are neat and digestible.”

Salon

“Powerful, readable prose.”

NPR

 “Anthony Townsend sifts through the hope and the hype of the latest system upgrade for our growing, and increasingly more elusively managed, metropolises — digital technology — emerging with an ambitiously wide-ranging, admirably clear-eyed, and ultimately humanistic guidebook to the connected city.”

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us

“Today, it’s not the height of the skyscrapers, but the depth of the code that drives the modern city. Anthony Townsend brilliantly frames the new forces shaping tomorrow’s metropolises. Read Smart Cities and you’ll never look at a skyline or walk down a city block the same way again.”
Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

“Our cities are in the first act of an unprecedented technodrama. At stake is nothing less than the survival of our urban species. Combining technological sophistication, deep humanity, and an urban planner’s sensitivity to the nuances of places, Smart Cities is an essential guide to understanding the technologies changing urban life.”
Andrew Blum, author ofTubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet

“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….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.”
Publishers Weekly