Drive for data to have regional base

With the opening of a new data centre in Townsville, industry experts are calling for the data industry to think regionally.

BRISBANE based data centre, cloud and connectivity provider iseek opened the state-of-the-art data centre this month, after extensive consultation with local council.

Founder and managing director of iseek, Jason Gomersall says the decision to locate in Townsville was based, in part, on demand from government agencies and corporate organisations in the region.

That nearby businesses and agencies led the demand for the North Queensland data centre is reflective of a growing trend of businesses wanting to be physically closer to their digital data, as well as an increased understanding of the benefits of locating data centres regionally, Mr Gomersall says.

“Government organisations and corporates are all starting to focus more on their data centres. It is increasingly important for these organisations that they know where their data is hosted and who is hosting it,” Mr Gomersall says.

The spreading of data centres across a broader geographic area also makes sense from a safety and security standpoint, Mr Gomersall says.

“Having all these data centres located within such close proximity to each other, as we currently do in Australia, seems counterintuitive.”

“Especially when you consider city locations are significantly more expensive than regional areas. It’s about property, people, and power – which are all more expensive in Sydney.”

“Locating data centres in regional areas around Australia makes sense on a number of levels. It lowers the overall security risk, stimulates the economy in regional areas, and reduces the overall running costs.”

“I believe the government should be working to have data centres spread throughout Australia,” Mr Gomersall says.

Local economic impact

The centre has been welcomed with open arms by local council, with whom Mr Gomersall consulted closely.

Mr Gomersall says he expects the Townsville centre to contribute significantly to the local economy within five to ten years. A large part of that will be the creation of local jobs.

The economic impact and community benefits of data centres, specifically Google centres, was recently explored in a report from Oxford Economics in the US*. The report found the opening of a Google data centre has a significant benefit on the local economy, creating significant employment and economic opportunities for the communities in which they are located.

Mr Gomersall says he anticipates similar impacts here in Australia, and believes the Townsville centre will demonstrate the measurable economic benefits.

“In particular, I see significant job creation in Townsville over a five-to ten-year period,” Mr Gomersall says of the centre’s potential impact on local employment.”

The issue of data centres and local jobs has been a focal point in the US, where some regional centres faced criticism for transplanting staff from the city, rather than hiring from within the local community.

Mr Gomersall says iseek is committed to employing locals and becoming a positive part of the community.

“We are looking forward to becoming a significant local employer in Townsville, and we’ll do the training to build those skills.”

*Google Data Centers: Economic Impact and Community Benefit, Oxford Economics, 2018

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