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New book from GSD’s Director of Research Antoine Picon examines smart cities

Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology and Director of Research at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, recently released a new book on so-called “smart cities.” Picon's book, titled Smart Cities: A Spatialised Intelligence, was officially released by Wiley on November 16 as part of its Architectural Design (AD)/AD Primer series.

In the book, Picon examines key dimensions of “smart cities,” a term that refers to urban centers that employ information and communication technologies (ICT) to address the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, ideally to improve communication between residents and their government and foster sustainable economic development. Picon explores both the technological and the spatial components of smart cities, and moves from a critical assessment of existing experiments to speculations on the rise of a new form of collective intelligence.

Picon begins the book with an examination of the technological realities on which smart cities are built. Through these technologies, he explains, the urban space appears as activated, and such 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. Picon reveals that these two trends are complementary, and the smart city of the near future will result from their mutual adjustment, in which urban space plays a decisive role.

To learn more about the book and browse its table of contents, visit its Wiley book page.