Telecommunications and tech firm, Pegasus Global Holdings, is planning to build a full-scale American town in the New Mexico desert that can house 35,000 people. Except – no one will ever live there. The 15-square mile town, called CITE (short for The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation) will truly be unique.
On its website, the company describes CITE as “the first of its kind, in scale and scope, fully integrated test, evaluation and certification facility dedicated to enabling and facilitating the commercialization of new and emerging technologies.”
“CITE will be modeled after a mid-sized modern American city, integrating real-world urban and suburban environments along with all the typical working infrastructure elements that make up today’s cities. This will provide customers the unique opportunity to test and evaluate technologies in conditions that most closely simulate real-world applications.”
Pegasus plans to spend $1 billion on creating the town with a projected finish date as early as 2018. Companies and governments will have the ability to test a number of innovations (such as driverless vehicles) in a human-free environment. The website touts that, “The structure and policies in place at CITE are specifically designed to remove legal, cultural and budgetary impediments as are currently prevalent in the process of moving beyond basic research and development activities.”
The company envisions that CITE can be used to test Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Green Energy: Alternative Energy Power Generation (e.g. Geothermal, Solar), Smart Grid Technologies, Telecommunications, Resource Development (e.g. Desalinization) and Security.
Nataly Gattegno, a designer at Future Cities Lab, believes the city would help accelerate experiments in creating a final product. She notes that, “It sounds like rapid simulations and evaluations would be possible with CITE, which would allow us to cycle through tests much faster.”
Others believe that CITE is a good idea but cannot predict actual real-life scenarios without the presence of people. Professor Steve Rayner observes that, “Technologies are not merely artifacts, they are social systems intermediated by materials and devices. The idea of ‘testing’ complex socio-technical systems without the people is bound to yield misleading results because real people frequently interact with materials and devices in ways that are not anticipated by disaster.”
Pegasus hopes that CITE will become a place where companies in both the public and private sector merge to innovate.