Data Centers: The Unsung Heroes Behind the Smart City Revolution
Cities today consume a huge portion1 of the world’s energy and emit more than half of the world’s greenhouse gases.
And as today’s cities implement smart technology to do everything from decreasing traffic to keeping pedestrians safe, that portion could continue to grow considerably2 due to the increased pressure on the data centers powering these technological advances.
“With the proliferation of the IoT and autonomous driving, the importance of the data center is only increasing,” says Matt Provo, CEO and co-founder of data center optimization company Carbon Relay3. “And the amount of energy required to power a data center is significant.”
Provo and his team of data scientists, engineers and environmentalists at the Boston-based company have been working since 2015 to tackle the challenges of efficiency and sustainability already plaguing data centers today. Data centers accounted for an estimated three percent4 of the world’s energy use in 2017, and another two percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — equal to the airline industry4.
Carbon Relay’s approach is focused on applying artificial intelligence to optimize the data center loads for energy efficiency. Provo says the dynamic nature and sheer number of different variables impacting data center loads makes the challenge of managing efficiency too complex for humans to keep up. And that will be even more true with the growth of smart city technologies, powered in part by the rise of 5G. According to one estimate5, cities worldwide are projected to spend $41 trillion over the next 20 years to upgrade their infrastructure to benefit from the IoT.
“To power these data centers and power those operations, depending on where that city or municipality has invested already and their own goals, will require a lot of interesting work and initiatives,” Provo says. Upgrading data centers to be more energy-efficient will be one key component of the smart city transformation.
This content is produced by WIRED Brand Lab in collaboration with Western Digital Corporation.
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- Carbon Relay
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- How Building a Greener Data Center in Cold Climates Can Reduce Costs