Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has announced plans to use $80 million to build a “smart city” in Arizona. The city will be built on the nearly 25,000 acres of land in southwestern Arizona that has purchased for the construction. The $80 million investment will be issued through one of his investment firms, Belmont Partners. The company said that the community is “comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona.”
The community will be known as Belmont and will be composed of offices, stores, schools, and homes. Belmont will be located roughly 45 miles west of Phoenix in an area called the West Valley. The planned community is in close proximity to a proposed highway that would carry vehicles straight to Las Vegas from the area.
The new community is expected to have up to 80,000 residences, providing housing for a population of approximately 182,000. The initial plan calls for 3,800 of the 24,800 acres to be devoted to office, commercial, and retail space. Another 470 acres will be set aside for the construction of public schools. Belmont Partners has not yet specified a timeline for construction.
The plan is for the city to integrate high-speed internet, smarter manufacturing, and systems that accommodate self-driving cars into its development. In a news release, Belmont Partners said, “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.”
As cities get more crowded, these types of technologies will become more necessary for residents to have an enjoyable quality of life. The United Nations predicts 2.5 billion people will move into cities by 2050. The project could serve as an example for cities nationwide and globally. In many cities, the infrastructure technology is decades-old and inadequate for today’s demands.
The project brings the idea of planned communities into the 21st century. It is not surprising that Gates has put his stamp of approval on the idea. Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, has spent most of his life bringing affordable technology to the masses in hopes of bettering the world. He and his wife Melinda founded the Gates Foundation, which has a mission of reducing poverty around the world and improving education in the US.