smart cities Resiliency and reliability will also be fundamental to safe 24/7 operations. Recent outages at hospitals have hit headlines, with operations cancelled or postponed, and the occasional outages in some of the major cloud providers’ operations also cause big disruptions to a variety of their corporate customers. The risk of a connected city going dark would clearly have big implications for citizens in their homes, individual businesses and safety. Security will clearly be a concern too. If cities are going to be run by connected networks, the security of that network will be paramount to protect against malicious attacks, hacks and takeovers. Adding many more access points to a network creates a security threat, which those intent on creating large bot-nets have already taken advantage of using home Wi-Fi routers, IP security cameras and digital video recorders. Operators of critical networks and essential infrastructure within an ecosystem, including data centre operators as the guardians of the physical aspects of security, will need to work together to provide the best cyber security possible. 38 | April 2017 Data centres as a part of the fabric of the smart city As major consumers of power themselves, the data centre will need to conform to the energy efficient, smart energy ethos of the smart city. Achieving a low power usage effectiveness (PUE) has long been a mark of a well designed data centre, but it will be critical to walk the walk within a smart city. As businesses with experience of energy management systems, there could even be scope for outsourcing of this knowledge to others within the ecosystem. Data centres even have the key to unlock one of the challenges to operating a smart city; power generation. Data centres all have redundant generators within their infrastructure which are maintained and tested so that if there was a grid outage, the generators would keep the lights on until the grid came back on. For the vast majority of the time though, these valuable assets sit idle. Some operators are already in discussions with the grid to sell power back to the grid at peak times using their own generators. In a city with a smart energy monitoring system which could manage power inputs from multiple sources Data centres will need to conform to the energy efficient, smart energy ethos of the smart city. and direct power to where it was needed and when it was needed, data centres can become both the consumer and the producer. To truly embrace the ethos of energy and waste management, data centres need to look to their own waste; heat. The Scandinavian countries put the rest of Europe to shame with their heat exchange systems, where waste heat from a data centre is used to heat houses, businesses and water. Working examples like this in the UK are few and far between, but this would be the end result of a truly smart city. Power to the data centre! As the boundaries between our physical and digital lives blur, our realities become augmented and we rely increasingly on the power of the ‘smart everything’ to optimise our lives, there is no doubt that the data centre will play a fundamental role in our towns and economies. The size and design of the data centre may need to change to accommodate advances in processing capacity, power consumption and federated vs hyperscale models – but there is no chance that a smart city will exist without one.