When it comes to how civic technology can change the world, the conversation has a way of shifting back and forth between the start-up community and the hacktivists. One can easily have a debate about which technologists are, on balance, accomplishing more to make cities work: The entrepreneurs or the altruists. (And it’s not as if the lines between the two are clear.) Government itself is a third actor in the equation.
After reviewing Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia, I wanted to follow up on some of these questions with author Anthony Townsend, a research director at the Institute of the Future. Here, Townsend talks about democratizing civic tech, why local governments may be the ideal keepers of personal data, and robot cars.