Computing Reviews

Demystifying smart cities: practical perspectives on how cities can leverage the potential of new technologies
Lisdorf A., Apress, New York, NY, 2020. 232 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 05/19/21

How do cities work and evolve? How can technology improve the services provided by a city government to its citizens? What technologies can providers utilize, develop, and integrate to enable cities to do so? This book answers these questions and provides a blueprint for how to do so in a practical, “been there, done that” fashion. In fact, the author has “been there, done that.”

Demystifying smart cities is organized into two parts. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to both the book and the parts. It starts with an overview of the history and future of cities, smart city landscape and actors, and areas of application. The section on actors examines the various stakeholders in a city, including their stakes or interests. This topic is unusual to see and should not be missed.

Part 1, “Understanding Smart Cities,” consists of five chapters, essentially the technology building blocks: connectivity, devices, data, intelligence, and an outline of the path to get there: engagement. Other key issues discussed: artificial intelligence (AI) for smart cities, and ethics in the context of autonomous vehicles. The latter is a familiar scenario.

Part 2, “Toward Smarter Cities,” outlines how to get there. Architecting, innovating, data management and value, and practical matters such as team formation are discussed. These topics are clean and concise. The author compares and contrasts innovation to low-fat yogurt. This is fresh and tasty.

The book concludes with references and an index. Smart city project summaries in several cities, with an emphasis on New York City, are presented as use cases throughout.

There are some sparse or missing parts: urban problems to be solved by smart city technologies; more on methods to gain alignment among stakeholders, and manage innovation and change; political and legal matters; and the future of work and quality of life in a smart city. While addressing all of this is not the book’s job, I would have liked more about the social and ethical considerations and consequences of smart cities filled with smart technologies--both intended and unintended. Readers can find some smart social questions in [1], business guidance on integrating human and machine hybrid activities in [2], and the portrayal of a future world where humans have “artificial friends (AFs)” even though their work has been “substituted” by automation in [3].

Smart people working together on smart city initiatives and technologies can be found in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) technical societies and organizations [4], the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) [5], and the International Standards Association (ISA) [6]. Join, support, encourage, and nudge them after reading this book.


IEEE Kansas City. “Smart Cities Initiative,” (accessed 03/14/2021).


Daugherty, P. R.; Wilson, H. J. Human + machine: reimagining work in the age of AI. Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, MA, 2018.


Ishiguro, K. Klara and the sun: a novel. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2021.


IEEE Smart Cities. “About IEEE Smart Cities,” (accessed 03/14/2021).


ACM Emerging Interest Group on Smart Cities and Communities. (accessed 03/14/2021).


ISO/TC 268 Sustainable Cities and Communities. (accessed 03/14/2021).

Reviewer:  Ernest Hughes Review #: CR147268 (2109-0232)

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.   Copyright 2021™
Terms of Use
| Privacy Policy