Everyone wants a smart city; Bill Gates builds his own in Arizona

The Arizona desert will soon be home to Belmont, a futuristic smart city right outside of Phoenix, planned along the I-11 freeway that connects the state to Las Vegas, CNN writes. The land purchased is approximately 25,000 acres, so the city will be about the size of neighboring Tempe and home to some 200,000 people.

“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 centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” reads a statement by the investors.

According to the investment firm, Belmont will accommodate 80,000 residential units, over 3,800 acres of office, commercial and residential space and 470 acres for public schools, among others, and it will be used as a model for future smart cities.

The project is based on a long-term investment owing to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who contributed $80 million. Gates owns Cascade Investment, the parent of Belmont Partners through which the tech city will be built. The goal is to reconstruct a digital city from square one to properly integrate high-technology into everyday life, as this approach would be more effective than enhancing the features of an already existing city.

“Envisioning future infrastructure from scratch is far easier and more cost efficient than retrofitting an existing urban fabric,” said a spokesman for the venture.

The US is not the only country with heavy investment in digitalization. Alphabet has already invested $50 million on urban innovation in a Toronto neighborhood, while Saudi Arabia aims to invest $50 billion in building a smart city infrastructure that will spread across three different countries. Called NEOM, the city will be built from scratch and will be fully automated.

“All services and processes in NEOM will be 100% fully automated, with the goal of becoming the most efficient destination in the world,” said the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

“NEOM will be constructed from the ground-up, on greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years.”

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