Anthony Townsend

Dr. Anthony Townsend is an internationally-recognized expert on the future of cities and information technology. He is the author of SMART CITIES: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for A New Utopia, published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2013.

In recent years, Anthony’s research has focused on autonomous vehicles and the future mobility, how data and artificial intelligence are reshaping urban life and urban governance, and how cities are planning for technology. He has written for Scientific American, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and appears frequently in technology and business publications and broadcasts including The New York Times, The Economist, NPR, and Time.

(press kit including headshots)


Anthony has worked and travelled around the world in a number of consulting, research and education organizations. In 2004, he was a Fulbright Scholar in residence in South Korea at the Seoul Development Institute, a division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. From 2005 to 2014 he served as Research Director in the Techology Horizons Program at the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, a think tank established in 1968.

From 2001 to 2004, Anthony taught courses in GIS, data management and anlaysis, and digital public space at New York University, in the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service’s urban planning program and the Tisch School of the Arts’ Interactive Telecommunications Program.

He attended MIT from 1998 to 2003, earning a doctorate in urban and regional planning. From 1996 to 1998 he studied at New York University, where he received a master’s degree in urban planning. In 1996, he graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s of science in urban studies, and a minor in physics. Anthony began his college studies with two years of coursework in civil engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Anthony grew up in Cape May, New Jersey, which bills itself as “The Nation’s Oldest Seashore Resort”.


Resilience. Anthony lived in the New York City area during 9/11, the 2005 blackout, and Hurricane Sandy in New York City. Through each of those experiences, he studied the role of digital technology  during the crisis and disaster response. Here is a talk on urban resilience he gave at Poptech’s “The City Resilient” event in 2014.

Science parks, technology-led economic development, and innovation clusters. The video below of Anthony’s talk at the Cambridge Phenomenon 50th Anniversary, in England’s premier tech cluster provides a concise overview our work on the future of science parks.

SMART CITIES. At the 2012 Code for America Summit Anthony described the thirteen principles of  ‘a new civics for smart cities’. This was a dry run prior to the launch of the book.

Community technology and DIY urbanism. Anthony was a co-founder of NYCwireless, one of the leading early organizations advocating for free, public wi-fi in public spaces. For a keynote at the 2016 Moscow Urban Forum, he departed from usual recent talks on global trends in smart cities, and returned to some of the bottom-up city hacking themes from the book and earlier work.

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