An Entire ‘Ghost City’ is Being Built to Test Potentially Dangerous Innovations

Find out how one company is spending $1 billion on creating a real-world environment for the testing of new technology.

In a world driven by technology, it was perhaps only a matter of time before we started to expand testing grounds to entire cities. Now, one company is forking out $1 billion to trial new IoT technologies.

It’s a big investment, but the rewards could be monumental – considering the rate at which the Internet of Things is infiltrating society, there will undoubtedly be plenty of organisations willing to pay big bucks to test out their technology.

Welcome to the Centre for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (aka CITE)

The urban testing ground has been christened the name CITE (Centre for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation). It is the brainchild of Pegasus Systems, a telecommunications and defense equipment vendor based in Washington, DC.

The company has stated the philosophy behind CITE is to merge together “real-world urban and suburban environments along with all the typical working infrastructure elements that make up today’s cities”.

So, what will CITE look like?

The general idea is to build a medium-sized ‘ghost city’ situated in New Mexico that replicates a standard modern American city. While it will be designed to accommodate a population of about 35,000, the site will remain completely human-free.

Instead, the urban environment – set to sprawl across almost 10,000 acres – will basically encompass “fibre networks laid over old copper, split-level suburban homes straight out of the 1960s, [and] big box stores on the outskirts from the 1980s”. Supposedly, this is to ensure the testing process is “as realistic as possible”.

While technological testing grounds have faced significant limitations up until now, CITE introduces an innovative developers’ playground that is the first of its kind in terms of scale and scope. The design of the ‘city’ incorporates four key facilities:

  • City Lab – a fully-functional test city, complete with infrastructure for urban, suburban and rural zones;

  • Field District Lab – a large portion of land dedicated to public or private lab development;

  • Backbone – an underground operations and maintenance system that connects the city and incorporates a data, energy and water grid; and

  • Research Campus – a centre for collaboration featuring research and support labs, clean rooms, research offices and campus administration.

What kind of experiments will take place there?

Due to the inconceivable advancements of technology, the possibilities are pretty endless. America’s WIRED Magazine has suggested the proposed grounds could be used to test things like driverless freight trucks controlled by wireless networks, or drone delivery systems that drop parcels on doorsteps. In the real-world, rush-hour traffic and spectrum interferences prevent these kinds of tests from being conducted. However, in a world with no actual people it’s entirely possible.

At this stage, the project has run into a few issues as it attempts to get off the ground. If successful, however, all those seemingly outlandish ideas for advanced IoT inventions could finally become a reality.

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