One of the world’s richest human beings is yet again expanding his portfolio. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his investment firm Belmont Partners have purchased about 25,000 acres in southwest Arizona to build a “smart city” called Belmont. Gates’ investment firm said in a news release, “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.”
Belmont Partners is devoting $80 million to the project, but there is no official timetables for construction. The company says that roughly 3,800 acres will be devoted to office, commercial, and retail space. About 470 acres will be used to build public schools for the community, while the remainder will be used to build nearly 80,000 residences for future citizens of the West Valley. Based on square mileage and projected population, the entire city will be comparable to Tempe, Arizona, a city in the East Valley that is home to Arizona State University, one of the largest secondary education schools in the country.
Following India’s Blueprint
Nevertheless, Gates is not the first person to envision a “smart city.” In fact, India has been working on an entire network of smart cities for years. Beginning in 2014, India set its sights on a lofty goal of 100 high-tech cities that will transform the country’s infrastructure, making it one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. With its rapidly growing population and adoption of new technologies, India seemed like the perfect place to dive into a concept like this. A major difference between India’s initiative and Gates’ project is that the Indian movement is being led by the federal government, which many people have criticized for moving too slowly. At the moment, only 20 of the planned 100 smart cities have even begun construction and not one has been completed. Gates and Belmont Partners should have an upper hand in this regard, because privately financed projects tend to move much quicker without the constraints of government holding them back.