Aaron Shapiro, "Design, Control, Predict: Logistical Governance in the Smart City" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)


The “smart” city of today looks little like what experts of yesteryear expected them to. In this book, Aaron Shapiro, Ph.D. takes readers on a behind the scenes tour of the smart city and shows the revolution in urban technology that is currently taking place in large metropolitan areas around the United States. Technology has fundamentally transformed urban life. Throughout Design, Control, Predict: Logistical Governance in the Smart City (U Minnesota Press, 2020), Shapiro develops a new lens called logistical governance in his effort to interpret and understand urban technologies. This lens was used to critique urban future based on extraction and rationalization.

Through ethnographic research, journalistic interviews, and his own hands-on experience, Shapiro helps readers peer through cracks of the façade that smart cities are bearing. He investigates the true price New Yorkers pay for “free,” ad-funded WiFi, finding that it is ultimately serving the ends of commercial media. Shapiro also builds on his experience as a bike courier delivering food for a startup company and examines how promises of “flexible employment” in the gig economy paves the way for strict managerial control. And he turns his discussion toward the current debates about police violence and new patrol technologies, asking whether algorithms are the answer to reforming the ongoing crises of criminal justice in large urban cities.

Through these gripping accounts of new technology in urban areas, Shapiro and Design, Control, Predict make vital contributions to conversations about data privacy and algorithmic governance. Shapiro provides a ground level account of a timely and important piece of research in Design, Control, Predict. This piece can be used when comprehending urbanism today and when identifying strategies to advance the critique and resistance to a dystopian future that is often viewed as inevitable.

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent research, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant“, was published in Gender Issues Journal. He researches culture, social identity, and collective representation as it is presented in everyday social interactions. He is currently studying the social interactions that people engage in at two annual festivals that take place during the summer months along the banks of the Mississippi River. You can learn more about him on his  website, Google Scholar, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or email him at johnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.

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Michael Johnston

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University.

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