In the New Mexico desert, a new fake city is underway that will enable researchers to test new technologies in a quasi “real world” setting.

City Lab, as it’s called, is a part of the Center for Innovation, Testing, and Evaluation (CITE).

The new city is modeled on a mid-sized American city of about 35,000 people, and will cover about 400 acres, including zones for urban, suburban, and rural areas. The city will include typical infrastructure such as streets, electricity, and water, and will be pre-wired for data collection. The whole of the CITE project will encompass about 15 square miles.

fake city

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City Lab will include the normal components of a small city, including:

  • An urban center with high-rise and low-rise buildings, along with municipal structures, churches, and businesses
  • Industrial space, including a power plant
  • An airport
  • A regional mall
  • A strip shopping area
  • Townhouses, two-storey houses, ranch houses, and split-level houses
  • Open rural land
  • Transportation infrastructure including interstate highway, urban streets, and rural roads

Pegasus Global Holdings, a company focused on technology development, is creating the project. Pegasus senior managing director Robert Brumley said the project will also be applicable to urban planning, “as to materials and operating systems for ‘legacy’ city upgrades.”

“As the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Everything, Legacy Cities need to be brought along in the most cost effective means possible,” he said.

According to Brumley, the company hopes to break ground before 2016. The company is also involved in a proposed international commercial space-launch facility, defense and security projects, and telecommunications technology, such as a laser-based optical satellite service.

When completed, CITE will be the largest research facility of its kind in the world, with the goal, the company said, of assembling researchers “to collaborate, forge relationships, and channel funded research and development into new products and partnerships.”

As a research facility, no humans will live in City Lab.

“This unique feature will allow for a true laboratory without the complication and safety issues associated with residents,” Pegasus said.

The company hopes CITE will enable more rapid development and testing of commercial technologies. Difficulties with previous efforts, according to Pegasus, stemmed partly from trying to research technologies in urban areas, and led the company to initiate the $US1 billion project. Those challenges “included access, long waits and cost. As a privately-owned and operated facility, CITE aims to break down those barriers for its customers.”

A major focus of the project is the commercialization of new technologies. To that end, part of CITE will be devoted to field labs for clients. According to Pegasus, targeted clients include:

  • Commercial industries researching robotics, smart transportation, and wireless communications
  • Federal labs that research a variety of technology projects, including energy, transportation, and cyber security systems
  • Federal agencies that research technology for projects such as law-enforcement scenarios, first-responder training, and energy projects
  • Universities and research institutions that need off-site facilities
  • Non-profit agencies that work on disaster-relief and humanitarian projects
  • Resources distributors that focus on energy and water projects

“CITE will be a catalyst for the acceleration of research into applied, market-ready products by providing ‘end to end’ testing and evaluation of emerging technologies and innovations from the world’s public laboratories, universities and the private sector,” Pegasus said.

Market areas that clients will work in, the company envisions, include:

  • Alternative energy generation such as solar and geothermal
  • Smart grid technologies
  • Telecommunications
  • Security
  • Intelligent transportation systems
  • Resource development such as desalinization