‘Ghost city’ becomes huge £700 million IoT testbed
‘Ghost city’ becomes huge £700 million IoT testbed

‘Ghost city’ becomes huge £700 million IoT testbed

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to be tested across an entire city in Mexico.

International technology firm Pegasus Global Holdings has ambitions to build an entire city. But while everything will be in place for a population of over 35,000 people, the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) will remain little more than a ghost town. Pegasus are privately financing the project, with the end goal of developing an innovation playground used to integrate and test new technologies in a realistic urban environment.

The CITE is proposed to be built in rural New Mexico, and Pegasus managing director Robert Brumley told Fortune in October that “the facility is open to anybody who wants to test.”

This is positive news in an age where new technologies are often viewed with a skeptical eye by the public and regulatory bodies. The full-scale testing ground, complete with homes straight out of the 1980s, will offer IoT companies around the world the opportunity to trial potentially dangerous prototypes without any risk to the public.

While this is a positive idea in the minds of those in the technology industry, Pegasus has so far struggled to bring CITE to fruition. The project was first announced back in 2012, but had to be delayed due to environmental concerns and disagreements with local authorities. Another potential build site was rendered out of bounds when the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was created in 2014. Pegasus is now looking at a new site west of Las Cruces, but is yet to officially announce regulatory licensing or where the money will come from.

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IoT and smart cities

Aside from issues surrounding the legalities of building an entire city in the New Mexico desert, there are concerns regarding how effective a ‘ghost’ city will be in providing a suitable environment for IoT testing. Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities co-director Steve Rayner told Fortune that “the idea of ‘testing’ complex socio-technical systems without people is bound to yield misleading results, because real people frequently interact with materials and devices in ways that are not anticipated by the designer.”

Whether or not new technologies require human interaction to be tested fully is one thing, but the prevalence of support for smarter cities in the long term is without question.

Speaking exclusively with Internet of Business, Luigi Mantellassi, CMO at IoT interface specialists dizmo said:

“We are going to be hearing about the notion of the “Smart city” much more. Shortly, it will roll off the tongue just as easily as the “Smart Home” or “Connected Car”. But whether all that forward-thinking and financial investment into intelligent lighting, parking solutions, IoT-enabled remote patient monitoring for Health Beyond Hospitals, or smart water metering drives the general ability to deliver services to citizens more sustainably or more efficiently – we don’t yet know.”

Also read: Barcelona partners with Cisco to pioneer IoT smart city