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Bill Gates just bought 25,000 acres in Arizona to build a new 'smart city'

  • Bill Gates has committed $80 million through one of his investment firms, Belmont Partners, to build a "smart city" in Arizona.
  • The city will integrate high-speed internet, smarter manufacturing, and systems that accommodate self-driving cars.
  • As more people move into cities, such technologies are poised to become more necessary.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has purchased nearly 25,000 acres of land in southwestern Arizona for the construction of a brand-new "smart city," KPNX reports.
Through one of his investment firms, Belmont Partners, Gates has committed $80 million to build a community composed of offices, stores, schools, and homes. The community will be known as Belmont.

Roughly 3,800 of the 24,800 acres will be devoted to office, commercial, and retail space, according to Belmont Partners, while 470 acres will be set aside for public schools. The new community will feature 80,000 residences, giving it a population of approximately 182,000, which is comparable to that of Tempe, Arizona.

Belmont Partners expects its development to feature all the trappings of a futuristic city: high-speed internet embedded in the built environment, accommodations for self-driving cars (such as traffic lights that communicate with one another to minimize congestion), and smarter manufacturing technology.

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Belmont will be located roughly 45 miles west of Phoenix, near a highway that runs straight to Las Vegas.
"Bill Gates is known for innovation and those kind of things and I think he picked the right place," Ronald Schott, executive emeritus at the Arizona Technology Council, told KPNX.
Ever since Gates stepped down from Microsoft in 2006, he and his wife Melinda have been committed to reducing poverty around the world, typically through the Gates Foundation, and improving education in the US. He's also spent a lot of time learning about what makes successful communities, visiting farms, and reading up on the best ways to re-use and recycle.

The picture that has emerged for Gates, like many interested in future urban planning, is one in which cities can support a growing population with limited resources. The United Nations predicts 2.5 billion people will move into cities by 2050. Experts say that migration will only be feasible if there's housing, transportation, and digital communication that can bear the burden.
In many cities, infrastructure technology is decades-old and holds the city back.

Belmont Partners said in a statement that the city "will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model." It has not yet specified a timeline for construction.

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