Imagine a brand new city being built in the United States, complete with almost everything a typical midsize city has today- a downtown, residential neighborhoods, rural areas- all full of homes, apartments, businesses, roads, and working utilities. Now imagine that the city doesn’t have any crime, and nobody will ever even get sick or injured. In fact, there might not even be a need for healthcare, but the hospitals will be there anyway. The city will be full of brand new, innovative, green developments, making it possible that the city will have practically no impact on the environment after construction is complete. Does all of this sound too good to be true? Did I mention that the city also will have no people living there?
It sounds strange, but a technology development company named Pagasus Global Holdings, apparently thinks it is a great idea. While they first announced it back in 2011, they have had a few struggles along the way to get the project started, but they still have plans today to build a city without people in the near future. They have said it will be used as a testing ground for new technology in conditions that most closely simulate real-world applications. The city is supposed to be laid out on 15-20 square miles in the desert of New Mexico, where researchers won’t have to worry about the safety of people getting in their way of their experiments. The technology company has even compared the new city to Disney World today, where engineers and planners work below ground to keep the park running efficiently. Computers will be able to mimic the human behavior, such as turning thermostats up or down, and flushing toilets. An entire highway system is planned so that it can be used to test unmanned vehicles going to and from work. Nicknamed simply, “The Center,” but the city has officially been named The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation.
While the idea is that the city will be a much more realistic testing ground for implementing new renewable natural energy services compared to a laboratory, it’s hard not to question if a project this big is necessary. Who really will benefit from a billion dollar project like this? If it does in fact move forward, it would likely be very valuable for the company, but it seems like it takes real people interacting within a space to discover all of the true pitfalls or successes of developing new types of infrastructure.
CITE hopes to help to change the environment for the better through commercialization of advanced innovations in energy, transportation, infrastructure, healthcare and the environment. Even with all of the modeling and computer programs pretending to be humans, I think that planning new forms of transportation and developing energy efficient services ultimately all rely on real world impacts made by the actual people that live there. I’m not saying that this step won’t have the potential to help in the advancement of our growing American cities, but I do think it is a huge cost to build a city from the ground up when there are so many other options available to study and learn from, both in the prospering and failing cities already in place throughout the United States today.