top 10 smart city books

The 10 Best Smart City Books Explaining The Future Of Urban Living

Automating our lives used to be confined to the smartphones in our pockets, but now the craze has jumped from our pockets to the wider world. Everything from the city we live in to the car we drive is becoming “smart”, and a whole range of new careers and fields have emerged with it. Whether you’re just intellectually curious or planning a career jump, we have you covered with the top 10 Smart City books to prime yourself on the future of cities.

Top 10 Smart City Books

The following list contains everything from denser textbooks to general overviews, written by a diverse range of experts and professionals geared towards everything from telling tales to equipping entrepreneurs. Wherever you are in your hopes to engage the field of Smart Cities, we’re certain this list has something for you.

1. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Walter Isaacson knows a thing or two about tech, having written an already successful book on Steve Jobs, and as such he’s a great go-to, to begin wrapping your mind around the Digital Revolution. He tells the history of the Digital Revolution by profiling the lives of the nerds, geeks, and technological geniuses that made possible the sci-fi reality we’re living in. This history could be a great place to start to really understand how we got to our current tech climate, and how you can best engage it from there, like the giants that came before us.

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

Technology and cities have quite a history together. In Smart Cities, author and urbanist Anthony Townsend tells the captivating story behind the relationship between the two entities. He paints an all-encompassing picture of how digitalization is revolutionizing the urban experience, and what this means for the future. This is a great read for an initial introduction into the realm of Smart Cities.

3. Smart Cities: Applications, Technologies, Standards, and Driving Factors

For those wanting a denser approach to Smart Cities, look no further than this book of 240 pages by a handful of editors. It covers a lot of the nuts and bolts you’ll need when wrapping your mind around Smart Cities, and it elaborates on a variety of topics: everything from taking your vision to reality to transportation issues and infrastructure.

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

Cities usually house governments and governments usually design cities. Tangled up in the mix are your average citizens, and it’s these citizens that author Beth Noveck believes will play a huge role in leveraging future technologies to participate more in government. This book of 363 pages outlines how the same technologies revolutionizing our cities can be extended one step further into honing our democracy.

smart city books educational reading

5. Smart Cities Digital Nations: Building Smart Cities in Emerging Countries and Beyond

Author Caspar Herzberg is a realist, and he doesn’t treat Smart Cities as a futuristic idea we’re developing towards. No, Smart Cities are here and now, and Herzberg argues for a fundamental reimagining for how we conceptualize our cities. He then moves beyond our own borders to discuss how Smart Cities are being played out across the globe, particularly in developing countries. This 225-page book could be knocked out fairly quickly and provides a heap of inspiration for those wanting to engage Smart Cities on a more global scale.

6. Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas that Shaped the World

Cities didn’t just sprout out of the ground. Instead, they hang from the coat tail of various dreams, aspirations, conflicts, and passionate pursuits of architects, designers, and leaders. Wade Graham’s book paints a thorough picture of the ideas that cause cities to be, grow, and flourish, and contains a wealth of ideas and information that will be beneficial to anyone working in a way that seriously engages urbanity.

7. Future Cities: 42 Insights and Interviews with Influencers, Startups, and Investors

Author Stefano Tresca knows a thing or two about cities, especially as he’s travelled the world, and now lives in one of the mother cities: London. In his book Future Cities, Stefano presents insights through interviews with some of the unsung catalysts of modern cities: influencers, startups, and investors. Whether we’re talking Uber or the use of drones to monitor traffic, Stefano’s book is sure to open your mind to further innovations regarding smart cities.

8. The Internet of Things: How Smart TVs, Smart Cars, Smart Homes, and Smart Cities Are Changing the World

The Internet of Things is perhaps one of the most powerful agents that will affect our lives in the future. Devices aren’t just becoming smarter, they’re becoming more connected through the advance of internet capabilities. Cities are no exception, so whether we’re talking smart homes or self-regulating traffic lights, anyone serious about Smart Cities could benefit from Michael Miller’s overview of the Internet of Things.

smart city books

9. Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane

Some of our Smart City books thus far have been quick to point out that Smart Cities are not “something of the future”, but are the here and now. The logical question to follow is: what’s next? In Augmented, author Brett King paints the picture of what the next step could be following Smart Cities, what he deems the Augmented Age. For the ambitious individual, not content to sit in the current trend of Smart Cities, King’s book will be a valuable tool for some future vision casting.

10. The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models

Maybe you’ve got the enthusiasm and vision necessary to really grasp Smart Cities, where they’re headed, and how to pour into that niche, but there’s still something to be said about the entrepreneurial skills needed to put all of that into practice. The Network Imperative by Libert, Beck, and Wind, is a call to jump on the entrepreneurial shift business that starters must undergo to engage the new network structure brought in by the digital age.


The emergence of Smart Cities and the economic boom surrounding them spells exciting times for techies, entrepreneurs, and urban enthusiasts. Regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, these Smart City books are bound to keep the vision alive and progressing.

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