A new town located near Hobbs, N.M., will be outfitted with nearly $1 billion worth of cutting-edge technology, from advanced wireless networks to self-flushing toilets. Too bad nobody will be living there to enjoy it.
According to the Associated Press, Pegasus Holdings will be building the town on 15 square miles just west of Hobbs, which has a population of around 43,000. It will be called the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, more ominously known as The Center, which sounds like a scary lab that might exist on Lost.
Pegasus says it’s designed to be a giant sandbox for researchers:
The Center will provide the opportunity for “end-to-end” testing, evaluation and demonstration of new intelligent and green technologies and innovations emerging from the world’s public laboratories, universities, and the private sector with the goal of determining the direct and indirect benefits and costs the innovations tested would have on our existing infrastructure.
In normal towns, constantly changing the infrastructure and testing for “terrorism vulnerability” are generally looked down upon by neighborhood homeowners associations. Here at The Center, researchers will be able to test things like self-driving cars without making anybody nervous.
Apparently the town is being modeled after Rock Hill, S.C., complete with houses outfitted with plumbing and appliances. The “smart city” will require an initial investment of around $400 million and will eventually cost around $1 billion to complete, according to Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings.
Why choose a patch of land near a tiny town in New Mexico? According to the AP:
Brumley said his group scoured the country for potential sites, “but we kept coming back to New Mexico. New Mexico is unique in so many ways.”
One big plus for New Mexico was its federal research facilities like White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and Los Alamos and Sandia national labs.
Translation: The government is already blowing things up in New Mexico; surely it won’t mind if this experiment goes terribly, terribly wrong.
People in nearby Hobbs stand to benefit, too. Pegasus says the project should create 3,500 temporary jobs connected with the building of The Center, plus 350 permanent jobs. Sweetening the deal for the local residents, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez says the state didn’t even give Pegasus any tax breaks.
While this will be probably be a boon for technology, we want an invite solely for the creepy experience of walking through a completely empty 21st Century ghost town.