Cover: The Urban Commons: How Data and Technology Can Rebuild Our Communities, from Harvard University PressCover: The Urban Commons in HARDCOVER

The Urban Commons

How Data and Technology Can Rebuild Our Communities

Product Details


$42.00 • £36.95 • €38.95

ISBN 9780674975293

Publication Date: 12/10/2018


368 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 photo, 1 map, 21 illus., 19 tables


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This is one of the first studies of changing urban structure through the lens of new media and a major contribution to our understanding of the contemporary city.—Michael Batty, author of Inventing Future Cities

The use of data and technology to address problems of cities is undergoing a revolution thanks to an unlikely convergence of academics, local governments, businesses, technologists, and civic organizations. Dan O’Brien’s book gives us a timely, balanced, and optimistic assessment of this rising field of urban informatics and smart cities.—Luís M. A. Bettencourt, University of Chicago

Dan O’Brien’s The Urban Commons provides a refreshing deep dive into the new world of urban informatics and the art of getting things done in the Information Age. It isn’t about the data, it’s about people. And it’s about how new information technologies empower all of us to understand and improve the common goods we share in the places we love.—Martin O’Malley, former Governor of Maryland

In The Urban Commons, Daniel O’Brien shows how the torrent of contemporary data—what many call ‘big data’—has the potential to reshape our understanding of how cities work. Setting aside hype in favor of rigor, the book takes the reader on a deep exploration of Boston’s innovative efforts to give citizens a role in governance through technology, especially its 311 system for reporting everything from potholes to squalid living conditions. O’Brien’s analysis of the voluminous data produced by this technology provides new insights on how public spaces are maintained, and his case study of Boston has broad implications for civic partnerships between cities and universities to rebuild communities. The Urban Commons will be of wide interest to all those concerned with the future of cities.—Robert J. Sampson, Harvard University, author of Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

During the past decade, opportunities to use new data sources and technologies to understand cities have generated enthusiasm across disciplines, with policymakers, in industry, and even among city residents. Dan O’Brien represents a new generation of scientists whose native tongue is fully digital. He applies a keen eye to look beneath the surface of these data sources not simply to provide a calibrated analysis of 311 but to demonstrate an approach to understanding a broad range of urban data sources.—Charles E. Catlett, Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago

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