Why does a tech company want to build ghost town in New Mexico?
Pegasus Global Holdings wants to build a full-size city to be populated by — no one. The company's planned New Mexico ghost town would be a huge research facility where scientists could tinker with the mechanics of a house, neighborhood or whole city without inconveniencing any humans.
A conceptual drawing of the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation that is being planned by the Pegasus Global Holdings in New Mexico. Pegasus hopes to break ground in June 2012 and have the city up and running two years later.
To test a big project, you need a big lab. Pegasus Global Holdings, a technology development company and frequent Defense Department contractor, is planning to take that idea to the extreme: It recently announced plans to build an entire new working city in New Mexico — complete with a downtown, suburban neighborhoods and outlying rural areas — for scientists, government agencies and private companies to use as an enormous test bed for "green" development and other projects. But there's one thing this town will lack: people.
The $200 million Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation would be built with all the dressings of a typical midsize American city. There would be houses, office buildings, roads, highways, gas stations, banks and even a shopping mall, all connected by working utilities and telecommunications infrastructure. But no one would live there. The only people around would be experimenters and workers in an underground control center who run all the city's systems.
Over the next six months or so, Pegasus will figure out what technical systems the center would have, design the town and then figure out just where in New Mexico it's going to build it. Pegasus hopes to break ground in June 2012 and have the city up and running two years later.
Although a fully operational city with no people sounds a little like the setup for a dystopian sci-fi novel, Pegasus CEO Robert Brumley says the center is modeled after Disney World: "Most of the maintenance of the facility is done underground, and aboveground is the amusement park." In some ways, the center would be like a playground for scientists and innovators. Brumley envisions it as a place where people developing new technologies could run large-scale experiments in real-world conditions that — for practical, financial, bureaucratic or safety reasons — they wouldn't be able to do elsewhere. "People can go there and experiment without restrictions," he says.
If it all sounds too crazy, here's a down-to-earth example: Say scientists want to see if a new kind of smart thermostat can make an entire neighborhood more energy-efficient. They could hand out the thermostats to homeowners in Albuquerque and check in on their meters for the next year. But the results would depend on a lot of factors out of the researchers' control, such as how warm or cool individuals like their rooms to be or the houses' insulation quality. And if the experimental system doesn't work, the scientists would have disrupted people's lives and maybe increased their utility bills.
But nobody would live in the center's buildings. Computerized systems would mimic human behavior such as turning thermostats up and down, switching lights off and on or flushing toilets, but they would do so under the scientists' control. A research team could install the thermostats in a block of the center's two-story suburban houses, then run multiple long-term scenarios, manipulating the imaginary residents' behavior to see what the energy use is under different circumstances.
Unlike some smart-city projects springing up from the ground, such as Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, the Pegasus facility would have the same mix of new and old infrastructure found in typical American cities. "You'd be able to experience what you'd experience if you introduced a new product or service into an urban, suburban or rural environment, and then see what the ripple effect would be," Brumley says.
The ghost town could also be used to test driverless vehicles, he says. Driverless trucks controlled over a wireless network could make freight more efficient, for example, and the upgraded communications systems required could help rural communities along the highway get better broadband access. Some companies are already developing the technology, but testing driverless trucks on real highways would endanger human drivers, and tinkering with telecommunications could disrupt regular service. Inside the unpopulated city, there would be no problem. "There'd be nobody to interfere with," Brumley says.
Pegasus chose New Mexico for the project because it's the location of two Energy Department labs and because it has a lot of undeveloped land. The company expects the center to span up to 20 square miles, about the size of New Haven, Conn. Brumley says private investors are footing the $200 million bill, and once the personless metropolis is up and running, Pegasus plans to fund operations with access fees and by selling excess power that the facility's energy experiments generate to nearby communities.
The company is targeting public land, of which there is plenty in the state, on which to build the city. Brumley also says offers have been flooding in from people who want to sell private land.
Brumley says researchers are already interested in conducting studies at the center but would not reveal specifics. "They need to have a place that's big enough for them to do the things that they want to do," he says — and no people to get in the way.
This article is not even 30 days old and the Albuquerque Journal has an article today (May 9th) claiming the costs to be one billion - it must be a government project or is being financed thru the government.
Where is the financing actually coming from?
This sounds like a FEMA camp for the monied elite, fully controlled and monitored for the safety and security of those who didn't quite make it to the many underground bunkers set up for the powerful elite of the government. While all the other post pole shift refugees are stuck in tent cities, working FEMA's food growing facilities and fields, the elite overlords will have their comforts and facilities. This is no different from the Ghost cities China has designed and built in the safe inland valleys of the Gobi desert.
The nice thing about it is the Jobs created for the builders involved, and the maintenance contract to keep the systems and monitoring equipment going would be quite lucrative.
wait.......some genius decided it's a good idea to build an empty city......CITY......in a state that boarders Mexico? Good luck keeping it empty for long........lol
All the comments sounds to me like the one twilight zone where the lights go out and the neighborhood is speculating what's going on. Most of the people are accusational and one person is level headed. How about this one? Maybe it's another Auschweitz camp. Or a FEMA camp. Sure someone will run with one of those if they hav'nt already..
Look gang, in order to do proper testing you need to remove as many uncontrolled variables as possible. That means people.
Also, you can bet that the whole town will be instrumented to the hilt. In scenarios like this it is likely much cheaper to build new than to try to retrofit old homes or an old town. Also, they likely won't have to deal with an existing tax base that a current town would want to bleed them dry with.
We already have some ghost towns in America and more are being created in rural areas each decade. Why build when you can buy an existing ghost town. And don't you just adore the idea of a tech company that wants to built a ghost town for research so they don't have to be inconvenienced by humans?
Are towns not designed for humans? What is a town without humans and human interaction (good and bad) without humans? Wouldn't we call that a "ghost town"?
This is akin to attempting to design products for humans but not bothering with pesky things like focus groups to determine the viability and desirability of the products or services.