The Urban School of Lyon continues its conferences entitled "The Wednesdays of the Anthropocene". This week's theme: the impact of digital technology on regional planning with Cécile Diguet, urban planner, director of the Urban Planning and Territories Department of the Paris Region Institute and Jean-Vincent Bayarri, architect of Information Systems at the Metropolis of Lyon.
As a partner, Rue89Lyon publishes a podcast of these forums. Jean-Vincent Bayarri, also wrote the text below.
The intelligent city relies on important digital infrastructures, especially data centers. How are these infrastructures deployed on the territory? What issues are raised by their spatial integration? Constraints or opportunities for an ecological factory of the city? Are digital actors the new protagonists of the urban project?
Videoconferencing, streaming, telecommuting, e-commerce, online gaming are in this period of confinement even more widely consumed than usual by the French.
Many articles in the press explain how consumption induced on "networks" alone can be problematic, at the risk of "slowing down" or even "paralysing" the Internet.
Above all, the Internet is a set of interconnected machines, i.e. multiple routes, managed by a multitude of actors: operators, public or private structures, associations, large companies. The term "network" is actually vague since it is a multitude of interconnected networks. At the end of the chain is a server infrastructure that must meet the high demand observed in this period of containment.
While it is true that some networks can sometimes be scarce resources, particularly mobile networks, most are well sized in France to carry the traffic.
So when the website of a hypermarket brand, overwhelmed by the requests of confined consumers, displays a message asking to wait, is it the fault of the "network"? Certainly not.
The problem can often come from the last link in the chain, the "server" carrying the resource and the content consumed. How do you know when and where to align sufficient resources to meet demand?
This is the importance of data centers, since they allow multiple servers to be quickly assigned to specific tasks.
And this capability also applies to the datacenters themselves! Just as the Internet is meshed and decentralized, the strategy adopted by companies like Netflix is a very wide distribution of data centers: on several continents, in several cities, and even as close as possible to the user, partly at the ISPs themselves. It is also a common practice in most companies to distribute resources across multiple data centers for reasons of security, redundancy and high availability.
Proximity, a technical, economic and strategic asset
Some cities have a considerable asset: a GIX (Global Internet eXchange point), i.e. a local Internet exchange point. In Lyon, this is LyonIX, which is managed by Rezopole. Companies or administrations that wish to do so can connect locally to this GIX and exchange via the Internet "locally".
Thus in the Lyon metropolitan area, a very significant part of Internet traffic is consumed by Google services (Maps in particular). Since Google is present on LyonIX, access is not only instantaneous (very low latency) but also free of charge. The rest of the Internet traffic is sold through the (paying) pipes of a forwarding agent.
Beyond purely telecom costs, the logic of economic development is clear: the more Internet infrastructure is present locally, the more investors are attracted to build local datacenters. This rhymes with more jobs, more value created, and an easier digital transition.
The interest is also strategic, since putting your data in the "cloud" means putting it in someone else's datacenters. A varied and local offer of datacenters therefore makes it possible to keep company data on national soil, in better security conditions (RGPD for example), which represents a certain digital sovereignty.
Digital transition, ecological?
"To save the planet, print this message only if necessary". This maxim could almost sum up the digital transition issue by itself.
Videoconferencing, the development of mobile digital counter applications, these are just a few examples of very concrete applications - made possible by the presence of these infrastructures, these networks, these data centres in the city - which also facilitate the ecological transition.The data centres themselves are working on this with the reduction of the energy efficiency factor or the reuse of heat produced by the district heating of the surrounding area, or even a 100% operation on renewable energies.
The digital revolution has given data centers a now multiple importance (economic, social, ecological) in the city as well as other essential structures. A central link in regional planning and the digital and ecological transitions, which are far from being in opposition, are perfectly complementary.
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Source : Rue89Lyon