This City Doesn’t Want You

Who wouldbuild a new city covering about 15 square miles in the southeast corner of NewMexico, but not want anyone to live there? Pegasus Global Holdings, that’s who.This private international technology company is behind CITE, The Center forInnovation, Testing and Evaluation.

Modeledafter a midsize American city, CITEboasts a real-world urban and suburban environment that includes the typicalworking infrastructure elements that make up a city of today?just withoutinhabitants. That?s because the idea for CITE (pronounced "sight") isto use the city to test and evaluate new and emerging technologies withouthaving to worry about the interference or well-being of humans.

According toPegasus, the uninhabited CITE "will represent a 20th century American citywith a population of approximately 35,000 people … that will allow for a truelaboratory without the complication and safety issues associated withresidents."

Think of it:houses, shops, roads, everything you’d expect to see in a city, but nobody’shome?except, of course, the hundreds of employees who will work both above andunder the ground, keeping the ersatz city running while testing varioustechnologies and products.

Pegasus saysthat some of the applications and technologies to be tested and evaluatedwithin CITE include: intelligent transportation systems (ITS); green energy;alternative energy power generation (e.g., geothermal, solar); smart gridtechnologies; telecommunications; resource development (e.g., desalinization);and security.

The companyexplains it this way: "At its core, CITE is about the establishment ofdevelopmental partnerships, bringing researchers from federal, university,commercial, international and other sources together to collaborate, forgerelationships, and channel funded research and development into new productsand partnerships."

It?s aterrific idea, and I hope this little burg in Lea County, just west of the Cityof Hobbs, N.M., is a great success. It could be a boon to how we live in thefuture. 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 (ExperimentalPrototype Community of Tomorrow), but that was?and is?basically a theme parkattraction. CITE, it appears, is not open to the public, so there will be no people?savethe employees?wandering its streets, eating at its restaurants or flushing itstoilets.

That makes methink that Michael Crichton would have had a field day with this. What horrorsand technologies-run-amok could turn the lovely little CITE into a JurassicPark-like disaster. Nah, that only happens in books and movies.

However, Iam going to check in on CITE’s progress every now and then (construction getsunder way this summer and it?s scheduled to be operational in 2014) to see ifthis tech zone has turned into a Twilight Zone.