As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, Hobbs, New Mexico, has been chosen as the site for a new purpose built ghost town.  The $1 billion euro venture will be a large urban research site, having no residents, and will be used to ‘test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.’  The 15 square mile development will form the ‘Center for Innovation, Technology and Testing’.  The aim is to become a locus for smart city research and to attract significant R&D investment into the area that will use the facility to develop and test their innovations in city infrastructure, vehicles, domestic and commercial appliances and so on.

Could we use our ghost estates to foster such economic development?  Partially, maybe.  On the negative side, ours are already largely built and would need a lot of retrofitting, are too small in scale for city-wide testing, and nearly all have residents living on them or adjacent to them.  Still, it might be possible to use one or part of one for smart homes/living research.  An idea that someone might want to explore, perhaps.

Rob Kitchin

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