Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

City to be scientific ghost town

A billion-dollar city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, south-eastern New Mexico

A scientific ghost town in the heart of south-eastern New Mexico oil and gas country will hum with the latest next-generation technology - but no people.

A billion-dollar city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.

Hobbs mayor Sam Cobb said the unique research facility that looks like an empty city would be a key for diversifying the economy of the nearby community, which after the oil bust of the 1980s saw bumper stickers asking the last person to leave to turn out the lights.

"It brings so many great opportunities and puts us on a world stage," Mr Cobb said.

Pegasus Holdings and its New Mexico subsidiary, CITE Development, said Hobbs and Lea County beat Las Cruces for the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Testing.

The CITE project is being billed as a first-of-its kind smart city, or ghost town of sorts, that will be developed on about 15 square miles west of Hobbs.

Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings, said the town would be modelled after the real city of Rock Hill, South Carolina, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new. No-one will live there, although they could as houses will include all the necessities, like appliances and plumbing.

The point of the town is to enable researchers to test new technologies on existing infrastructure without interfering in everyday life. While some researchers will be testing smart technologies on old grids, others might be using the streets to test self-driving cars.

"The only thing we won't be doing is destructive testing, blowing things up - I hope," said Mr Brumley.

The project is expected to create 350 permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect jobs in its design, development, construction and operational phases.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz