Big Data, Internet of Things and Data Centres

Written by VIRTUS Data Centres Published 2015-01-13 08:00:00

Big Data, Internet of Things and Data Centres: Looking Forward to the Smart Cities of the Future

The rapid urbanisation of the 21st century has for the first time seen the world urban population overtake the rural population. It is forecasted that 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050. To enable this large-scale urbanisation, cities will face unprecedented challenges in infrastructure planning and require phenomenal investment. Cities of the future will need to manage complexity, be more efficient, lower expenses and focus on quality of life.

The term 'Smart City' is now widely used to describe the concept of these future infrastructures, where information and communication technology play a central role, and where cities are competitive in social and environmental capital. Cities will need to become sustainable whilst offering a high quality of life to its citizens, and harnessing Big Data and the Internet of Things are just two ways in which this can be done. In order to create an effective, efficient and smooth way of life for those who will inhabit these technologically active environments, both of these concepts will need to rely heavily on data centres.

Ultimately, Smart Cities are already changing our lives, and promise to bring great benefits to citizens, businesses and cities in the future on economic, sociological and technological levels. However it is easy to underestimate today the amount of data flow that will be created once a Smart City is fully developed and how all this data will be managed. This is where the idea of Big Data is at its most relevant – for commercial, enterprise and sociological reasons.

In terms of business functions in a Smart City, businesses have always wanted access to information that enables them to make better-informed decisions and this demand has encouraged the growth of Big Data tools and platforms. Going forward, Big Data will require businesses to change the way they operate and compete, and the ones who successfully gain value from their data will gain distinct competitive advantage. Whether this is data that benefits their business model, or building management data that ensures a more enjoyable working environment for their employees, recording and effectively using Big Data can be dramatically beneficial.

Furthermore, with the rapid movement from rural to urban living, cities need to invest heavily in physical infrastructure to meet the demands of the future. The Internet of Things provides opportunity for cities to operate far more efficiently physically, whilst also cutting unnecessary costs.

This may seem like a future vision, but in reality there are already a number of cities in the world implementing Internet of Things technology in various ways. In Philadelphia, sensors on bins which indicate when they are full are saving the city $1 million a year in reduced waste collecting. In Glasgow, energy efficient streetlights have been programmed to brighten where noise levels rise, signalling disturbance and preventing crime.

Data that is created through Big Data collections or monitored by Internet of Things devices has to be stored and processed somewhere – and the hugely extensive nature of this information needs something beyond a company or government department's in-house storage capabilities. Therefore, data centres need to be considered a crucial part of any Smart City: the hub of all of its constantly active, constantly updating real-time data collection and processing.