Bill Gates is building his own city, and he’s loading it with smart tech

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Bill Gates used his smarts to become one of the most successful people on the planet, so it only makes sense that he would make a smart city. Earlier this month, a group headed by Gates’ investment group Cascade Investment LLC purchased a large plot of land just outside of Phoenix, Arizona to build this vision of a smart future.

The vision for Gates’ smart city is one with “high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles, and autonomous logistics hubs,” according to a statement from Belmont Partners, the real estate developer on the project. Few people live in the area now, but Belmont said in a statement the projected population of the smart city will be comparable to Tempe, Arizona, which is home to more than 182,000 Arizonans.

The smart city’s cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and modes of distribution could involve large-scale 3D printing, a technology Gates has supported in the past. With plans for autonomous vehicles, the city could be one of the cities Gates says will experiment with the technology before it is offered to the broader public. In a 2016 CNBC interview, Gates said autonomous vehicles are 15 years from being “a meaningful percentage of cars driven,” and it will take “leading-edge cities around the world during the next decade” to work the kinks out.

Gates’ Belmont development is near White Tank Mountain and is a massive 24,800 acres, according to property records. Belmont Partners plan to divide the acres up into 80,000 homes, 3,800 acres for retail, office, and industrial space, and 470 acres for public schools. Gates and his foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have been instrumental in changing public schools, and recently invested $1.7 billion in public education in order to pursue new instructional methods.

If the homes in this city incorporate today’s smart technology in the same way that Gates’ home did when it was built in 1997, the residents should be well connected. Gates’ 66,000-square-foot compound was the original tech paradise with touch pads in each room that control lighting, temperature, and music. Companies such as Wink have made this technology commonplace in the home, so it’s entirely plausible they’ll be in Gates’ vision of the smart home.

No announcement has been made as to when construction of Gates’ smart city will commence.

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