The Meaning of Cities   /   Summer 2017

From the Editor

The Block II (detail), 1972, by Romare Bearden (1921–1988), The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA, New York.

Whenever it pops up these days, and it does very often, the phrase smart city conjures up visions of a bright, bold urban future—a future that, to some extent, has already arrived. “Officials are tapping all kinds of data to make their cities safer, healthier and more efficient, with what may be the start of a sweeping change in how cities are run,” reads the subhead of “The Rise of the Smart City,” the lead piece in a Wall Street Journal special report on the urban frontier. We are assured that through the mobilization of Big Data, the Internet of Things, robotics, and a host of other technological wonders, this “sweeping change” is not only inevitable but all to the good.

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