The way we live is changing. Technologies from artificial intelligence to the blockchain are fast becoming a central part of the way society runs. These changes are impacting the way we interact with the built environment, how that environment is constructed, and how our cities are governed. Our cities are getting smart; smarter than many of us realise.
The depth and breadth of the smart cities phenomenon is, quite simply, breathtaking. So much so that, at first, much of what you’ll read sounds like science fiction, but when you realise that these are developments that are actually happening and, in some cases, already have happened, it blows your mind.
These books represent some of the best reading material we’ve found on the topic. Prepare to be amazed: these are our pick of the best smart cities books that you should read.
Know of a book that should be here but isn’t, let us know! Email Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a comment below.
According to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier, “There is no rigorous definition of big data. Initially the idea was that the volume of information had grown so large that the quantity being examined no longer fit into the memory that computers use for processing, so engineers needed to revamp the tools they used for analyzing it all…One way to think about the issue today — and the way we do in the book — is this: big data refers to things one can do at a large scale that cannot be done at a smaller one, to extract new insights or create new forms of value, in ways that change markets, organizations, the relationship between citizens and governments, and more.”
This is a massive and ambitious book, which starts off as another primer on modern urbanism, touching in particular on Patrick Geddes, but covering familiar territory with insight and and vigour. From there it seems to shade into an account of personal activism in the world of cobbling together free wifi for neighbourhoods, and then into an almost scholarly account of the potential for witting or unwitting community generated data to power our new cities and our future.
A must read for those interested in the developments of sharing and collaborative discourse, especially in its most recent forms, worringly dominated by what the authors refer to as ‘the economic or commercial framing’.
This book manages to achieve what is often impossible: critically reflect on the key issues at stake, discuss alternatives to our socio-economics status quo, and still leave the reader with a promising outlook for the future. The proposed Sharing Paradigm is not a utopian concept, but rather a framework solidly grounded in practice, exemplified through a variety of case studies.
The book is based on previous academic research work of the author and discusses the issues of “Smart Cities” and “Smart Mobility” as well as the role of PSI in the European Union. The major aim of this book is to explore how the concept of “Smart Mobility” can be practically implemented and how city data can play its role.
Open Data: All You Want To Know About Open Data (Big Data, Transparency, Urbanism, Transportation, Sustainable Cities, Innovations, Smart Governance, e-government)
This book is an attempt to collect, analyse and present the current status of open data. This thorough and in-depth book covers: definitions of open data, the classification of open data, a discussion on “degrees of openness”, governmental motivation to open-up data, an overview of legal frameworks, critics to open data and valuable links to other authors and resources.
Open Data is an updated chapter of the above title, Smart Cities In Europe: Open Data In A Smart Mobility Context, and covers only the topic of Open Data and public sector information (PSI).
The Responsive City is a guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help leaders link important breakthroughs in technology and data analytics with age–old lessons of small–group community input to create more agile, competitive, and economically resilient cities.
Featuring vivid case studies highlighting the work of pioneers in New York, Boston, Chicago and more, the book provides a compelling model for the future of governance. The book will help mayors, chief technology officers, city administrators, agency directors, civic groups and nonprofit leaders break out of current paradigms to collectively address civic problems.
The Responsive City is the culmination of research originating from the Data–Smart City Solutions initiative, an ongoing project at Harvard Kennedy School working to catalyze adoption of data projects on the city level.
In The New Science of Cities, Michael Batty suggests that to understand cities we must view them not simply as places in space but as systems of networks and flows. To understand space, he argues, we must understand flows, and to understand flows, we must understand networks — the relations between objects that comprise the system of the city.
Drawing on the complexity sciences, social physics, urban economics, transportation theory, regional science, and urban geography, and building on his own previous work, Batty introduces theories and methods that reveal the deep structure of how cities function.
This book opens with an examination of the technological reality on which Smart Cities are built, from the chips and sensors that enable us to monitor what happens within the infrastructure to the smartphones that connect individuals. Through these technologies, the urban space appears as activated, almost sentient. This activation generates two contrasting visions: on the one hand, a neo-cybernetic ambition to steer the city in the most efficient way; and on the other, a more bottom-up, participative approach in which empowered individuals invent new modes of cooperation. A thorough analysis of these two trends reveals them to be complementary.
Throughout this exploration of some of the key dimensions of the Smart City, this book constantly moves from the technological to the spatial as well as from a critical assessment of existing experiments to speculations on the rise of a new form of collective intelligence.
There is an emerging view that the design of the thousands of new cities needed for an expanding world population are to be founded on intelligent and inhabited infrastructural systems or flow architectures of urban metabolisms.
The physical arrays of the flow architecture of the city are intimately connected to the networks of subsidiary systems that collect and distribute energy, materials and information. They animate the city, and should therefore be intimately coupled to the spatial and cultural patterns of life in the city, to the public spaces through which people flow, and should unite rather than divide urban morphological and ecological systems.
This book explores this common conception of the problematic of smart urbanism and critically address what new capabilities are being created by whom and with what exclusions; how these are being developed – and contested; where is this happening both within and between cities; and, with what sorts of social and material consequences.
The aim of the book is to identify and convene a currently fragmented and disconnected group of researchers, commentators, developers and users from both within and outside the mainstream SU discourse, including several of those that adopt a more critical perspective, to assess ‘what’ problems of the city smartness can address
The volume provides the first internationally comparative assessment of SU in cities of the global north and south, critically evaluates whether current visions of SU are able to achieve their potential; and then identifies alternative trajectories for SU that hold radical promise for reshaping cities.
Have we missed anything out?
If you have read (or written) a fantastic smart cities book that you think we should add to this list, please email Michele at email@example.com.