Ecuador is pouring more than $1 billion into a planned city two hours outside of Quito, designed to help the country emerge as a sort of "Silicon Valley of the tropics" over the next 30 years. But there are reasons to be skeptical, according to McGill University assistant professor of geography Sarah Moser, who studies planned cities. "I see these plans as sort of real estate development to make the rich richer, and they always have a veneer of 'eco-city' or 'smart-city' to make it more palatable ... but I also know that sometimes they can work," she said.

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