This City Doesn't Want You
By Tim Moran
Why would anyone build a new city covering about 15 square miles in the southeast corner of New Mexico, but not want anyone to live there? Pegasus Global Holdings, that's who. This private international technology company is behind CITE, The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation.
Modeled after a midsize American city, CITE boasts a real-world urban and suburban environment that includes the typical working infrastructure elements that make up a city of today--just without inhabitants. That's because the idea for CITE (pronounced "sight") is to use the city to test and evaluate new and emerging technologies without having to worry about the interference or well-being of humans.
According to Pegasus, the uninhabited CITE "will represent a 20th century American city with a population of approximately 35,000 people ... that will allow for a true laboratory without the complication and safety issues associated with residents."
Think of it: houses, shops, roads, everything you'd expect to see in a city, but nobody's home--except, of course, the hundreds of employees who will work both above and under the ground, keeping the ersatz city running while testing various technologies and products.
Pegasus says that some of the applications and technologies to be tested and evaluated within CITE include: intelligent transportation systems (ITS); green energy; alternative energy power generation (e.g., geothermal, solar); smart grid technologies; telecommunications; resource development (e.g., desalinization); and security.
The company explains it this way: "At its core, CITE is about the establishment of developmental partnerships, bringing researchers from federal, university, commercial, international and other sources together to collaborate, forge relationships, and channel funded research and development into new products and partnerships."
It's a terrific idea, and I hope this little burg in Lea County, just west of the City of Hobbs, N.M., is a great success. It could be a boon to how we live in the future. But, in some ways, it also gives me the willies.
Of course, Walt Disney was way ahead of his time with the idea for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), but that was--and is--basically a theme park attraction. CITE, it appears, is not open to the public, so there will be no people--save the employees--wandering its streets, eating at its restaurants or flushing its toilets.
That makes me think that Michael Crichton would have had a field day with this. What horrors and technologies-run-amok could turn the lovely little CITE into a Jurassic Park-like disaster. Nah, that only happens in books and movies.
However, I am going to check in on CITE's progress every now and then (construction gets under way this summer and it's scheduled to be operational in 2014) to see if this tech zone has turned into a Twilight Zone.