The plan is simple enough and doesn't require a whole lot of technology. In fact just the technology we already have. The Hubble telescope. (To make this even less expensive, the Hubble just received two new telescopes free from an agency that just “found" two telescopes that were originally meant for spy satellites but were collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere.)
The two astrophysicists who came up with the idea were rather upset that it couldn’t be used on planets around a sun/star. But, now, way out beyond the Kuiper Belt, researchers are now looking for alien civilizations by looking for a cluster of lights. Once a cluster is found then it must be determined to be artificial lights. Of course if we saw natural light coming from a planet that might be worth investigating! This possibility and new idea came about because of the fact that Tokyo, Dubai, and other cities like them are so bright that we would be able to see them 1,495,978,707,000 km from Earth. (1.49 10^12km )
Is alien life smarter than us? As smart as us? Maybe like bats they use sonar, maybe they’re blind and don't need lights or maybe their cities are underground. None the less, it is a good idea and simple enough. So far we have been trying to find aliens by radio signals but since that hasn't paid off as yet....
From the BBC to Discover to a multitude of science digests, they all talk about this concept that is one of those ideas that is so simple, yet new and exciting. Don’t you wonder if they’ll tell us if they find something/one?