15 Square Miles In New Mexico, Population: 0

See on Scoop.itHorn-y News

Originally posted by BY EMILY BADGER | 05-23-2012 | www.fastcompany.com

A shiny new city rising in the desert is designed to be a testing ground for everything from wireless networks to self-driving cars.

This summer, Pegasus Global Holdings will begin building a city from scratch in the desert just outside of Hobbs, New Mexico, that will look not unlike Hobbs itself. TheCenter for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation will be modeled on a mid-sized, mid-American town of about 35,000 people. Hobbs, located just outside the Texas border in the Southeastern corner of the state, is just a bit larger than that. The new city–CITE, as the locals and out-of-town developers call it–will similarly have a kind of downtown, a retail district, residential neighborhoods, and collar communities. It will have functioning roads, self-sustaining utilities, and its own communications infrastructure. It will not, however, have a single permanent resident.

After years of pursuing high-tech companies, Hobbs will be getting what might be one of the most impressive high-tech novelties around: a 15-square mile, fully functioning but empty town next door, unlike any other R&D facility in the world, that will be used to test everything about the future of smart cities, from autonomous cars to new wireless networks.

To Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb, this is the culmination of three decades of a city trying to reinvent itself. Back in the mid-1980s, it first became clear that the oil and gas industry that dominates this part of the country would no longer employ quite so many people, with quite as many high-end jobs.

“Those of us that have been involved in this for these many years, we came to the realization that it was never going to be like it was before,” Cobb says. “Technology had changed it forever.” Today, Exxon no longer needs to keep 200 highly trained engineers here. An oil company drilling a well can monitor and control the entire process from miles away. “All of those things are being uploaded via satellite to an engineer who is looking on his iPad while he’s watching the football game at his home in Houston,” Cobb says. “The chances of him ever returning to Hobbs, New Mexico, are slim.”

And so the town started chasing new high-tech industry itself: uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants, biodiesel development, nanotechnology. Then earlier this year, Pegasus selected Hobbs out of 16 New Mexico communities that had vied to host this empty research city. If this facility takes off as Pegasus and state officials hope it will, CITE will become not just the largest business operation around Hobbs, but one of the most significant in the region…

Continue reading on www.fastcompany.com