Summary of Smart Cities

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Cities are undergoing major transformations, with digital systems increasingly managing critical infrastructure and public services. According to urban planner Anthony Townsend, “getting cities right” will have a major impact on how successfully humanity will cope with global challenges, including climate change and poverty. In an essay posted on Medium, he explains how urban policymakers can live up to this responsibility. getAbstract recommends Townsend’s analysis to policymakers and city dwellers everywhere.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What “smart cities” are, 
  • How smart cities have evolved and
  • How urban policymakers can guide the process of building smarter cities. 

About the Author

Anthony Townsend, PhD,  is an expert on the future of cities and information technology. He is the author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. 



Digital systems are playing an increasingly important role in managing city life, which has given rise to the concept of “smart cities.” Yet smart cities haven’t come into existence because of conscious, top-down urban planning. Rather, cities have incrementally adopted information and communication technology to improve governance and urban infrastructure. Private companies, not urban planners, have so far been in charge of these upgrades. This has resulted in an increasing consolidation of data and power in the hands of a few corporations, such as IBM, Cisco Systems and Siemens. In shaping the cities of the future, however, private corporations are failing to address the broader challenges that cities face, such as growing economic disparities and shortages in affordable housing.

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