Building Smart Cities: Analytics, ICT, and Design Thinking, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Building Smart Cities

Analytics, ICT, and Design Thinking, 1st Edition

By Carol L. Stimmel

Auerbach Publications

266 pages | 47 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781498702768
pub: 2015-08-13
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The term "smart city" defines the new urban environment, one that is designed for performance through information and communication technologies. Given that the majority of people across the world will live in urban environments within the next few decades, it's not surprising that massive effort and investment is being placed into efforts to develop strategies and plans for achieving "smart" urban growth. Building Smart Cities: Analytics, ICT, and Design Thinking explains the technology and a methodology known as design thinking for building smart cities.

Information and communications technologies form the backbone of smart cities. A comprehensive and robust data analytics program enables the right choices to be made in building these cities. Design thinking helps to create smart cities that are both livable and able to evolve. This book examines all of these components in the context of smart city development and shows how to use them in an integrated manner.

Using the principles of design thinking to reframe the problems of the smart city and capture the real needs of people living in a highly efficient urban environment, the book helps city planners and technologists through the following:

  • Presentation of the relevant technologies required for coordinated, efficient cities
  • Exploration of the latent needs of community stakeholders in a culturally appropriate context
  • Discussion of the tested approaches to ideation, design, prototyping, and building or retrofitting smart cities
  • Proposal of a model for a viable smart city project

The smart city vision that we can create an optimized society through technology is hypothetical at best and reflects the failed repetition through the ages of equating scientific progress with positive social change. Up until now, despite our best hopes and efforts, technology has yet to bring an end to scarcity or suffering. Technical innovation, instead, can and should be directed in the service of our shared cultural values, especially within the rapidly growing urban milieu.

In Building Smart Cities: Analytics, ICT, and Design Thinking, the author discusses the need to focus on creating human-centered approaches to our cities that integrate our human needs and technology to meet our economic, environmental, and existential needs. The book shows how this approach can lead to innovative, livable urban environments that are realizable, practical, and economically and environmentally sustainable.


"Carol Stimmel has set out to carry forward many of the lessons in early smart cities efforts. She lays out her thinking in a rigorous and methodical manner that serves to teach the reader design-thinking principles for solving challenging complex smarter cities problems. She also provides an innovative framework within which to consider appropriate solutions. But, perhaps the most compelling thing about this book is the demonstration of the fact that the vision for human-centric smart cities is entirely achievable and wholesomely probable – this is not some idyllic future, this is a reality that we are quickly coming to face and for which we have tools to address."

— From the Book’s Foreword by Sherry Comes, IBM Distinguished Engineer & CTO/Entrepreneur

"Ms. Stimmel lays out the problems associated with the current trajectory of the development of smart cities concisely and provides a cogent argument for how applying design thinking to this domain will improve the likelihood of enabling people in urban environments ‘to be productive, socially connected, and economically successful.’ She argues that we must put design and human experience before technical capabilities, and that we must view the enterprise of building smart cities holistically and within specific cultural contexts. Engineers, user experience professionals, and students who are new to either the topic of smart cities, to the practices of design thinking, or experience design will benefit greatly from reading this book."

— Anne P. McClard, PhD, UX Research and Design Lead, Intel Corporation

"Carol Stimmel has penned a book not just to be read by city planners, engineers, or technology experts. This narrative is for all of us — the artist, a student, the farmer, a banker. ‘Using design thinking, a human-centered approach to innovation, urban designers can create new products and processes that are well grounded in empathy.’These are weighted words of truth as we move forward, seeking balance in an often unbalanced world, Ms. Stimmel's voice resonates in deeply human prose and debate, relevant to our humanity today, the past and most succinctly, our collective future."

—John Stanmeyer, American photojournalist, National Geographic

"The Internet of Things is the Wild West of new technology trends. While it is currently peaking on the technology hype curve, its impact on the future technology landscape is irrefutable. With every tech startup company (and even massive incumbents) trying to redefine the IoT in their own image, Ms. Stimmel brings us back to earth with the tried and true design approach that defines the problems in human terms before presuming the solutions.

With the rise of each new culture twisting technology most early pioneers imagine the bright future through lenses shaped in the past. Ms. Stimmel’s approach helps avoid such mistakes by taking a fresh look at how people are affected and how lives can be improved when technologists are armed with new tools. This book should be required reading for politicians, sociologists, urban geographers, and technologists who intend to build the cities of the future."

— Clarke Stevens, Principle IoT Architect, CableLabs

"Finally, someone breaks the myth about the perfect value of ubiquitous Big Data. Ms. Stimmel purports that Big Data with little wisdom is a dangerous combination and that, if we do not disrupt it with the collective voice and spirt of human city dwellers, we will continue to run the perilous risk of inequality, injustice, and a compromised quality of life, affecting mostly those who are socially and economically disenfranchised. With lucidity, grace, and compassion, and an arsenal of Big Data behind her, Carol Stimmel firmly and unequivocally argues that human beings need to be an integral part of the design and development of their cities, and that cities should belong to the people and be governed by the people, not by machines and algorithms."

— Jude Smith Rachele, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO of Abundant Sun

"This is a critically important book. Carol Stimmel takes the viewpoint that our technology and device centric approach to building smart cities of the future will need to give way to a human-centric approach if we are going to build metropolises in which the 50% of the world's population that lives in urban areas can thrive. She accomplishes this by asking the right questions, especially how can we build cities that work for people? She provides practical approaches to developing these solutions."

— Nicole Poindexter, Founder and CEO, Energicity

Table of Contents


The Imperative for Smart Cities

A New Vision

What Is Smart?

A Sensitive Relationship

What Do We Really Want from the Smart City?

Managing the Shift

Designing for People

Technology, Innovation, and the Problem with People

Chapter Goal

Are We Really Ready for Technology Advancement?

People and Technology: Collision or Cooperation?

Sensors to Services

The Surprisingly Familiar Sensor

The Internet of Things

A New Perspective on Smart Cities

Chapter Goal

The Position for Moving Forward

What’s the Holdup?

Smart City Design Goals

A Usable World

Why Design Thinking?

Chapter Goal

Thinking About Thinking

So, What About Merging?

Design Thinking Applied

Chapter Goal

A Method, Not Magic

Ways That Design Thinking Has Been Used in Cities

When Urban Design Rises Above Imposition

Assessing the Usefulness of Design Thinking

Section One: Key Points


Smart City Planning and Management

Chapter Goal

Smart Cities and Their Role in the Creation of a National Identity

A New Role for City Government

Balancing the Forces

The Politics of Artifacts

The Fundamentals of Smart Infrastructure

Chapter Goal

The Energy Opportunity

The Building Opportunity

Orchestrating Our Lives, Not Just Our Buildings

The Bonds of Energy and Water

Full Convergence

The Urban Life Force

Chapter Goal

Transportation as Animating Principle

Innovative Transportation Services

Transportation Connects

Where Do We Go Now?

Section Two: Key Points


Smart City Analytics

Chapter Goal

The Vocabulary of Analytics

Analytical Models

The Analytics of Things

The Analytical Intersection of Human and Machine

Analytics as a Service

Technology, Social Inclusion, and the Wisdom of the Urban Community

Chapter Goal

Technology in Social Inclusion

People as Sensors

From Social Inclusion to Social Influence

Crowdsourcing for a Smarter City

Information Security and Privacy

Chapter Goal

Drawing the Lines

Security Deserves an Important Place in Design

Privacy Begins in the Home

The Role of Open Data in the Privacy Discussion

Putting This into Practice

Section Three: Key Points


Hacking the City

Chapter Goal

Designing Inspiration

Sociospatial Perspectives

Smart Cities: Problem or Promise?

Chapter Goal

Forging a Partnership

Create an Ecosystem

Crossing the Chasm of Fear

How Design Thinking Can Work for the Smart City

So, You Want to Design a Smarter City?

Section Four: Key Points

About the Author


Carol L. Stimmel is the founder and CEO of Manifest Mind, a collaborative research and consulting organization, working to ensure that companies and investors have the information they need to make enduring investment decisions in the complex world of sustainability. Stimmel is recognized for her integrity, years of experience, independent spirit, and ability to create expert teams on-demand, which have rapidly made Manifest Mind a trusted source of insight for assessing opportunities in developing human economies, the built environment, and natural ecosystems.

With 25 years of experience in emerging technology markets, including operations, research and analysis, and product design, she is a frequent speaker and co-author of The Manager Pool (2001), author of Big Data Analytics Strategies for the Smart Grid (2014), and Building Smart Cities: Analytics, ICT, and Design Thinking (2015). Currently, she is working on new approaches in the field of sustainable finance and future tech collaboration. Stimmel holds several key technology patents and pending applications with myriad co-inventors, including those related to virtual communication, broadcasting, autonomic computing, and energy benchmarking.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Database Management / Data Mining
COMPUTERS / Information Technology
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development