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New R&D City Missing One Key Ingredient: People

In New Mexico, construction will begin this summer on a fully functioning 15-square mile new town, designed "to test everything about the future of smart cities, from autonomous cars to new wireless networks," reports Emily Badger.
May 24, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE), being built by Pegasus Global Holdings in the Southeastern corner of New Mexico, just outside of Hobbs, will be modeled on a mid-American town of 35,000 people and "will have functioning roads, self-sustaining utilities, and its own communications infrastructure," but it will be home to no one. 

Badger provides the details on the plan for the city, which is intended to "address one of the great obstacles to the commercialization of new technology: that "valley of death" between early-stage R&D and the deep pockets that are willing to invest in products once they have hard data behind them," and the real-world town it is being modeled after. 

"A small city will grow up along a pattern familiar to any urban planner with historic warehouses, a low-rise urban center of four- to six-story buildings, light industrial and retail zones, residential neighborhoods, inner-ring "streetcar" suburbs, exurbs, and a rural area. There will be gas stations and big-box stores, cottage-style housing, and split-level homes. And flushing toilets. 'Everybody seems to be fixated on the flushing toilets,' [Bob] Brumley [with Pegasus] says. Pegasus will stop shy of interior decorating. But these structures will otherwise be built to code and move-in ready. The whole idea, after all, is to replicate true-to-life cities--at least as true-to-life as cities can be without any residents around."

"Pegasus designed CITE's layout using Census data on the profile of typical cities this size. In the midst of developing the project, Brumley flew into the Charlotte airport and caught a glimpse out the window of a place that looked from above exactly like what he had been envisioning. Since then, Rock Hill, South Carolina, has served as the more literal model for the mock town that will develop outside of Hobbs."


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Published on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in Fast Company
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