Data Centers: Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

  • Amsterdam Smart City
  • Digitization produces an exponentially increasing amount of data, which causes an need for datacentres and connectivity. In 2030, there is expected to see a twenty-fold increase in data traffic, consuming 5% of worldwide electricity at that point. A recent report has shown quite some hesitance on whether or not the foreseen rise in datacentres in The Netherlands is the right way to go.

    Some say data centers take up a lot of precious space, (green) energy and (drinking) water, and that they would not create much direct employment either. The report showed that the connectivity and availability of current data centers in The Netherlands would suffice for the Dutch market, as it only uses about a third of their capacity.

    Critics were quick to respond and argued the economic value of accommodating data centers for big data-driven industries. Not only the economic value of high-connectivity data centers is worth mentioning, but also the security and ownership of our (European) data is a factor worth mentioning. It is necessary to prepare for decision making that takes these aspects into account.

    In this session of Data Dilemmas we invite you to talk about the costs and benefits of accommodating data centers, the complexity of the weighing of these aspects, and how future policies could manage these.


    The event is in English.

    15.50: Digital walk-in
    16.00 – 16.05: Introduction by Amsterdam Smart City & Datalab
    16.05 – 16.10: Introduction to challenge
    16.10 – 17.00: Presentations + Q&A
    17.00 – 17.20: Plenary discussion and wrap-up

    Among others Wout Rensink (province of Noord-Holland), Thomas Moran (techUK) and Daan Terpstra (SDI Alliance).

    Background information

    ***About the Data Dilemmas series***
    The increasing need for data centres shows the speed at which the digitalization of our environment is growing, as the possibilities of using data and new technologies to address big transitional challenges are endless. We use the data to make cities safer, cleaner and more accessible. But do we really need the data in all cases? What happens to all the data that is collected? Which choices did people make and why? Which dilemmas can be encountered? These questions are important for everyone; for governments, knowledge institutions, residents and companies. Amsterdam Smart City likes to explore with you which decisions are needed for responsible use of data. Data Dilemmas is a collaboration between Amsterdam Smart City and the City of Amsterdam’s Datalab.