Smart Cities and the Pursuit of Utopian Urbanism
A look at 21st-century city-building. Is the utopian “smart city” within our grasp?
The promise of the so-called smart city has been at the forefront of urban planning and development since the early 2010s, and the tech industry that supplies smart city software and hardware is now worth hundreds of billions a year.
But the ideas and approaches underpinning smart city tech raise tough and important questions about the future of urban communities, surveillance, automation, and public participation. The smart city era, moreover, belongs firmly in a longer historical narrative about cities — one defined by utopian ideologies, architectural visions, and technological fantasies.
Smart streetlights, water and air quality tracking, autonomous vehicles: with examples from all over the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Portland, and Chicago, Dream States unpacks the world of smart city tech, but also situates this important shift in city-building into a broader story about why we still dream about perfect places.