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article imageBill Gates buys $80m of land to build 'smart city' in Arizona

By James Walker     Nov 13, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has bought 25,000 acres of land in Arizona to create a new smart city called Belmont. Located a short distance from Phoenix, the site has cost Gates' investment firm Cascade Investment LLC $80m to acquire.
The land will be used to create a "forward-thinking community" supported by modern infrastructure, next-gen mobile networking and an emphasis on emerging technologies. The transport system will be supported by autonomous vehicles, there'll be spaces assigned for datacentres and opportunities to build new manufacturing hubs.
Of the 25,000 acres, 3,800 acres will reportedly be assigned to commercial use as offices and distribution hubs. 470 acres will house schools with most of the remaining land used for houses and residential spaces. The vision put forward by real estate firm Belmont Partners is a new technological hub in central Arizona, connected by the proposed I-11 freeway direct to Las Vegas.
There's a lot of work to do before the vision becomes reality. To most U.S. citizens, the concepts involved are still futuristic. Many are still unproven in actual use because there are no existing smart cities to use as a model. Although autonomous technologies and digital-first urban models are evolving, Belmont will be used to pioneer many forms of future technology.
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Gates isn't the only tech visionary interested in the smart city concept. In Toronto, Google parent company Alphabet is preparing to develop a tech-centric neighbourhood with similar aims to Belmont. The site will be much smaller, initially limited to just 12-acres, but is supposed to be used as a testing ground for futuristic city infrastructure and technologies. The lessons learned will then be applied to a wider swathe of Toronto's downtown area.
Belmont is a much larger project. It will be developed over several years and provide thousands of new homes and employment opportunities. The land will turn into the first of a new breed of cities built around seamless connectivity and mobility. With strong transport links and a location close to Phoenix, Belmont will be a suitable model for future smart city developments.
The idea has been hailed by Arizona Technology Council executive emeritus Ronald Schott. Fox News reports he said the city will help Arizona establish itself as a leader in emerging technologies. The city's placement next to I-11 will help to develop the local economy and establish the city as a major hub in Arizona and Nevada.
It's not yet clear when construction will begin or how long it will take. Little is known about the project except for the area of land involved and the overarching aim of embracing technology. There's also no word on how high the total cost is likely to be. The $80 million figure will probably rise as the city starts to grow.
More about Bill gates, smart city, Arizona, Infrastructure, connectivity
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