The Real Deal New York

Which of these high-tech utopias would you live in?

From Phoenix to Melbourne, experiments in building smart cities are cropping up
November 19, 2017 11:42AM

(Credit: front photo by imelenchon/Wikimedia Commons; back photo by Pexels)

Smart cities with high speed internet functioning at a city-wide level are popping up from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to suburban Phoenix and Melbourne.

Along with these built-from-scratch cities, the market for the technology that holds them together is projected to be worth $34.4 billion per year by 2020, according to Curbed. Most cities are incorporating the technologies within pre-existing infrastructure or designating dedicated districts to implement the systems, but six cities are striking out to blaze new trails by creating brand new places.

If you had to, which would you live in?

1. Urban Innovation Lab, Toronto
Announced this fall, Alphabet will be leading this project to build an 800-acre smart site along Toronto’s eastern waterfront. The company is putting in $50 million to create it. The Alphabet group in charge of the project, Sidewalk Labs, is drawing on many experiments that were first tested on small scales in the streets of New York City. Read more here.

2. Belmont, Arizona
Preliminary information just became public for this new city which will be built about 45 minutes outside of Phoenix. This effort will be led by Belmont Partners, with none other than Bill Gates in the wings (Gates’ Cascade Investment LLC controls Belmont), and at least $80 million was put down for the land. Though many details are missing at the moment, the firm has made it known the area will be built for driverless cars. Read more here.

3. NEOM, Saudi Arabia
Located an ocean away in a different desert, the city of NEOM is supposed to be ready by 2025. The Saudi government is investing $500 billion to make the 10,000-square-mile city and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be spearheading the initiative, which will cross into Egypt and Jordan. Read more here.

4. Seasteading Institute’s Floating Cities, French Polynesia
The San Francisco non-profit, using seed funding from Peter Thiel, is working on building floating structures for the nation that constitute a separate economic zone constructed out of sustainable materials such as coconut fiber and recycled elements. The structures are to be completed by 2020 at a cost of about $60 million.

5. YarraBend, the Tesla Town of the Future, Australia
In a suburb of Melbourne, Elon Musk is working on his version of the smart city using Tesla systems and products. Developer Glenvill has been constructing the Tesla homes, electric car-charging stations and other infrastructure for the community, which already has 60 homes on the market. The community is slated to have about 2,500 homes when complete and homes already have quite a price tag of between about $1.5 to $2 million.

[Curbed] — E.K. Hudson