In an era of mass urbanization and technological ubiquity, what happens when computers take over the city? Urban planning expert Anthony Townsend explores this and other questions in a new book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Townsend’s work takes a broad look at the people and historical forces that have transformed the design of cities and information technologies. Smart Cities explores the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings of a new generation of “technology barons,” entrepreneurs, mayors, and civic coders working together to shape our urban future.
Author Anthony Townsend and New America Foundation experts share an in-depth discussion about the struggle to transform our cities with new technologies. The conversation focussed on the sweeping policy implications of this technological transformation and the historical precedents for the current battles. How might the application of these technologies affect existing socio-economic disparities present in cities? How should municipal governments navigate their increasing reliance on private companies for services? What tradeoffs are made as more and more public information is privatized?