The world’s richest man wants to create a smart city in the desert with efficient transportation, self-driving cars and high-speed internet
The world has a chance to experience the creation of the first fully automated city. Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has invested $80 million in buying land in the Arizona desert where he plans to build a smart community that will feature cutting-edge tech at its core.
The 25,000 acres, about 45 miles west of Phoenix, will be called Belmont after the investment group Belmont Partners through which Gates has committed the funds. The area lies close to a motorway to Las Vegas.
The firm expects its development to have all the perks of futuristic technology, featuring automated transportation with self-driving cars and traffic lights that communicate with each other.
“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centres, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” the company said in a statement.
The interest around so-called smart cities has been rising recently. Communities seek to use technology to keep streets clean, to keep traffic safer and moving faster, and to make life more comfortable.
Similar systems are being used in Izmir where the benefits of high-tech implementation have improved everyday life. Travel times have been shortened by 30-65 per cent in the Turkish city since smart city devices were installed. Belmont’s planners want to take another step ahead.
“The experimentation that takes place in this new Belmont community has the potential to demonstrate the viability of new smart city concepts and serve as an example for cities nationwide and globally,” Brooks Rainwater, the director of the City Solutions and Applied Research Center at the National League of Cities, told Business Insider.
Belmont will consist of 80,000 residential units, with more than 3,400 acres of open space and 3,800 acres for office, commercial and retail space. Public schools will be built upon 470 acres of land, the firm said.