As a society, we are increasingly dependent on digital connectivity. It links us with friends, colleagues and family. It enables us to work from anywhere, stream films and more. Big data is also helping to answer important questions related to, for example, climate change or disease control.
This growing appetite for data and cloud services, from individuals, schools, hospitals, research institutions and businesses, brings with it the need for more and bigger data hubs, thereby creating a dilemma. Connectivity and therefore data centres are a necessity, but their physical presence, land use, and environmental impact are becoming a cause for public and political concern.
To discuss the issues and identify possible solutions, Royal HaskoningDHV held a round table event with leading people from data centres, industry organisations and public sector stakeholders.
Changing perspectives on the desirability of data centres in the Netherlands
Rules and regulations from national and local governments, are tightening - partly in response to public opinion. Until recently, the Dutch government stressed its position as the gateway to Europe in respect to data and a frontrunner in digital infrastructure. Data centres were warmly welcomed and actively encouraged to invest in the Netherlands. However, national and regional governments are now turning away from this initial attitude as a result of increasing pressure and demands on scarcely available land and energy sources from other sectors such as housing, industry, agriculture and nature. This challenges the data centre sector to put forward convincing arguments and demonstrate added value for society to maintain and secure a license to operate.