Bill Gates invests $80bn in Arizona Smart City

Philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates has had his latest venture revealed by a team of Arizona reporters: the Microsoft mogul’s investment firm Cascade LLC, in conjunction with Belmont Partners (the holders of the property) has committed an astonishing $80m to build a ‘smart’ community over almost 25,000 acres of land, set to comprise offices, stores, schools, and homes. The city will be named Belmont after its holders.

Of the 24,800 acres now belonging to Gates’ Cascade firm, 3,800 acres will be dedicated to office, commercial, and retail space, with 470 acres devoted to public schools. The majority of the remaining space will house 80,000 residences – enough to give the community a population of roughly 180,000. That’s not far off the headcount of Tempe, a city just east of Phoenix. Belmont will be on the other side of Arizona’s capital, 45 miles west.

As technology races forward, the dated infrastructure technology in many global cities is starting to show its age, whilst other cities, of which Edinburgh is a leading example, reap the rewards of connected architecture and data-driven insights.

“The experimentation that takes place in this new community has the potential to demonstrate the viability of new smart city concepts and serve as an example for cities nationwide and globally.” So said Brooks Rainwater, the director of City Solutions and Applied Research Centre at the National League of Cities, of Belmont’s grand designs.

Although the news has caused more than a few raised eyebrows in the world of technology, perhaps Gates’ latest venture isn’t so surprising after all, given his areas of interest as a philanthropist. Since leaving his post as CEO of Microsoft in 2006, he has committed to reducing world poverty through his foundation, the Gates Foundation, and will doubtless have learnt much about what it takes to build successful communities on his global travels, including trips to farms and schools and investigations into the best ways to recycle.

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