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Should Data Centres Be Built In Cities?

26 August, 2015

city data centreCurrently, data centres are generally built in remote areas – industrial parks, huge remote warehouses, or off the motorway in the middle of nowhere. But is there a case for data centres being built right in the heart of our cities?

To determine whether this case had any merits, we decided to take a look at the key factors that should be considered when choosing the location of a data centre.

Access to power today and in the future

Having reliable, robust access to power is one of the most important factors in choosing the location of a data centre – so it certainly makes sense to place a data centre right in the middle of a city. These are generally densely populated areas that consume lots of power and rarely experience any kind of blackout or power shortage, purely because there’s so much backup power around. Perhaps placing data centres closer to cities, or even in the heart of our busiest areas, could reduce the risk of unexpected downtime due to power failures.

Cooling and climate

Data centres generate heat – and lots of it. While many recommend building data centres in cooler regions so the air can chill the data centre, there could be a case for harnessing the heat produced by data centres and then using it to power homes or businesses within inner-city areas. If bright minds can figure out how to leverage the massive amount of heat produced by these data centres, the pathway to metropolitan data centres could become a little clearer.

Proximity to risk

Building a data centre in the middle of a city might make the area something of a target, sure. And there are undoubtedly risks to building such an important data hub in the middle of a city. But there are equal risks to building outside of the city. Flood plains, fault lines or building data centres directly in the path of air traffic can all cause problems and risk – it’s just a different type of risk.

It seems there is a developing case for data centres being built in more populated areas – but there’s still a long way to go before this is a viable solution. If a solution can be found to harness the heat output of the data centres, and if developers can find a way to reduce the risk of building in a city, there’s real potential for this concept to be realised.  

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