How Data Centers Can Help Build Energy-Efficient Smart Cities


In 2015, in an effort to address the challenges of rapid urbanization, the Indian government launched the National Smart Cities Mission. The goal is to modernize 100 cities and make them sustainable by 2023. The mission aims to drive economic growth and improve quality of life through comprehensive work on the social, economic, physical and institutional pillars of town. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development through the creation of replicable models that act as beacons for other budding cities. An important aspect of smart cities is sustainability. Since the foundations of most smart cities will be rebuilt and redesigned, it is imperative that the underlying computing and connectivity infrastructure has energy-efficient infrastructure.

Data centers are the nerve centers of all digital activities. Since every smart city today depends on technology to make itself not only efficient and resilient, but also to scale rapidly, the role of a data center in a smart city becomes even more important. Looking at the scale of data center growth, it’s clear that the industry is poised for huge growth. The ICRA rating agency estimates that the India’s data center industry capacity expected to grow fivefold and is expected to add an overall capacity of 3,900-4,100 MW involving investments of Rs 1.05-1.20 lakh crore over the next five years. Considering the huge demand, almost all global hyperscalers have invested in the Indian market. To grow rapidly in the Indian market, these hyperscalers hire the services of colocation service providers.

Data centers – the basis of all digital activity in a smart city

The success of smart cities will largely depend on the quality of its supporting infrastructure. A data center that can lead the way in energy efficiency will help the smart city set standards for all aspects. This also has an economic benefit, as Gartner estimates that approximately 10% of data center operating expenses are power-related and are increasing by a significant percentage each year.

The growth of hyperscale data centers will have a corresponding percolation impact on the energy efficiency of smart cities. Indeed, all major players in hyperscale data centers have taken a series of initiatives to save energy. It is said that Google’s data center today can deliver about seven times more computing power from the same electrical power than it could five years ago. There are several other ways to save energy: decommission inactive servers, consolidate servers, replace old energy-inefficient IT equipment with new energy-efficient equipment. Equally important is investing in new energy-efficient technologies and redesigning data centers to manage airflow more efficiently. This is also crucial because approximately 25% of the data center’s power is devoted to cooling. The good news is that advances in cooling technologies and energy-saving improvements are having a big impact. For example, a report from the US-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that improved energy savings nearly negate capacity growth. In 2014, data centers in the United States consumed 70 billion kilowatt hours. If energy efficiency levels remained as they were in 2010, data center energy consumption today would be 160 billion kilowatt hours. The startling reality is that the estimate for 2020 is only 73 billion kilowatt hours. Despite an increase in consumption, if smart cities invest in energy-efficient technologies, the impact can be substantial.

Remote monitoring – the unknown to increase energy efficiency

In addition to the parameters mentioned above, there is another crucial aspect that has often been overlooked in smart city energy savings. Let’s explain. The growing number of sensors and systems deployed in the smart city means that city staff must oversee the installation, maintenance and operation of more products in more places. Often, city employees rely on manufacturers for support. When a city the size of Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore implements thousands, if not millions, of sensors, sending someone to troubleshoot every failure becomes both time-consuming and expensive. Having the ability to remotely or automatically reset the failed sensor, device, control equipment or network makes sense, as it saves both time and money by avoiding the cost of sending a person and vehicle to a remote location to “reset”. to change.”

Using network-accessible remotely monitored and managed power distribution units (PDUs) can also help monitor temperature and environmental conditions in the cabinet or enclosure housing smart devices. Having an infrastructure powered by smart PDUSs also helps reduce energy costs by turning off assets that don’t need to stay on when not in use. For example, city buildings such as libraries, schools, and museums can all be turned off when not in use, saving money and being “greener” for the public. ‘environment.

With the scope of sensors (IoT), systems (edge ​​computing) and networks (5G) helping to make the Smart City “intelligent”, it is imperative that architects and designers provide an effective way to monitor and remotely reset the underlying hardware to minimize downtime, avoid costly truck trips, and ensure the satisfaction of citizens who rely on the use of these systems. Since data centers are the nerve centers of any digital initiative, every small step taken to save energy can have a bigger impact on data center energy efficiency.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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Ramon J. Espinoza