Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Although a fully operation city with no people sounds like the setup for a dystopian sci-fi novel, the Boston Globe reports that the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation will develop a $1 billion scientific ghost town near Hobbs, New Mexico to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets on existing infrastructure without interfering in everyday life. Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings, says the town will be modeled after the real city of Rock Hill, South Carolina, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new although unlike traditional cities, City Labs will start with its underground “backbone” infrastructure that will allow the lab to monitor activity throughout the 17-mile site. “The idea for The Center was born out of our own company’s challenges in trying to test new and emerging technologies beyond the confines of a sterile lab environment,” says Brumley. Since nobody lives in the Center's buildings, computerized systems will mimic human behavior such as turning thermostats up and down, switching lights off and on, or flushing toilets. The Center’s test facilities and supporting infrastructure may require as much as 20 square miles of open, unimproved land where the controlled environment will permit evaluation of the positive and negative impacts of smart grid applications and integration of renewable energies for residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the economy. Additional testing opportunities would include technologies emerging in intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks, smart grid cyber security and terrorism vulnerability. “It’s an amusement park for the scientists,” adds Brumley. "The only thing we won't be doing is destructive testing, blowing things up — I hope.""