With the Easter holidays coming up, you might find some more time to grab a book and learn about the city of tomorrow. We have curated our favourite list of books in the fields of urbanism, governments, crowdsourcing and civic technology. Take a sip from your coffee and enjoy your reading time!

1. Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing

26264761“Smart Citizens, Smarter State” suggests that public decision-making could be more effective and legitimate if government were smarter. Think about how powerful institutions would be if they knew how to use technology to leverage citizens expertise. Just as individuals use only part of their brainpower to solve most problems, governing institutions make far too little use of the skills and experience of those inside and outside of government with scientific credentials, practical skills, and ground-level street smarts. New tools that Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertise are making it possible to match the supply of citizen expertise to the demand for it in government. Crowdsource wisely, not widely.

2. Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design

Happy CityRich with new insights from psychology, neuroscience and Montgomery’s own urban experiments, Happy City reveals how our cities can shape our thoughts as well as our behavior. The message is as surprising as it is hopeful: by retrofitting cities and our own lives for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city can save the world–and all of us can help build it.

Do you think  the Happy City is a smart city?

3. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia

Smart Cities

In Smart Cities, urbanist and technology expert Anthony Townsend takes a broad historical look at the forces that have shaped the planning and design of cities. From the rise of the great industrial cities of the nineteenth century to the present, we discover the birth of smart cities hacktivism. A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of millions of citizens  in mega-regions.

4. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

Cognitive SurplusFor decades, technology encouraged people to squander their time and intellect as passive consumers. Today, tech has finally caught up with human potential. In Cognitive Surplus, Internet guru Clay Shirky forecasts the thrilling changes we will all enjoy as new digital technology puts our untapped resources of talent and goodwill to use at last.

5. The Wisdom of Crowds

Wisdom of the crowdsIn this fascinating book, New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant–better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. With boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as, behavioral economics and artificial intelligence to show how this simple idea offers important lessons to select our leaders, run our companies, and think about our world, in the light of the city of tomorrow.



6. Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

Walkable cityJeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices to transform our urban cores by improving their accessibility. This will take us one step closer towards the promise of a ‘smart city’.

7. The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths

The entrepreneurial stateThis book debunks the myth of the State as a large bureaucratic organization that can at best facilitate the creative innovation. This happens in the dynamic private sector. Analysing various case studies of innovation-led growth, it describes the opposite situation, whereby the private sector only becomes bold enough to invest after the courageous State has made the high-risk investments.

If you’re a civic tech enthusiast, this is definitely a must-read!


8. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier

Triumph of the cityAs Edward Glaeser proves in this myth-shattering book, cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live. New Yorkers, for instance, live longer than other Americans; heart disease and cancer rates are lower in Gotham than in the nation as a whole. More than half of America’s income is earned in twenty-two metropolitan areas. And city dwellers use, on average, 40 percent less energy than suburbanites.

This book is “Bursting with insights” (The New York Times) to build the cities of tomorrow, through various means like intrepid reportage and keen analysis.

9. Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation

Digital citizenshipDigital Citizenship brings to the table three major aspects of online citizen participation: economic opportunity, democratic participation and inclusion in prevailing forms of communications. Statistics show that significant segments of the population are still excluded from digital citizenship. The authors of this book define digital citizens as those who are online daily. By focusing on frequent use, they reconceptualize debates about the digital divide to include both the means and the skills to participate online. They offer new evidence (drawn from recent national opinion surveys and Current Population Surveys) that technology use matters for wages and income, and for civic engagement and voting.


10. The City as Interface: How Digital Media Are Changing the City

The City as InterfaceDear civic tech lover, you will love the thought-provoking way that Martijn de Waal tackled what we call “the cities of tomorrow”. In The City as Interface, he discusses the ways in which digital and mobile media are changing urban life and the experience we have of our surroundings. De Waal delves into how the rise of these “urban media” also presents an important philosophical issue: how do they affect the way the city functions as a community?


Readers’ Tips:

11. The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance

The Responsive CityThe Responsive City is an excellent toolbox for smart governance for leaders. If features real-life case studies of pioneers focusing on creating the cities of tomorrow – more agile, competitive and economically resilient. The book explores topics such as building of trust for the public sector, using data-smart governance, saving money through digital tools and innovative leadership in governments.

Do you have any other book tips for us? Let us know by tweeting us @citizenlabco!

  • Macello Medeiros

    I include in this list at least one more: “Responsive City”, Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford.