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Described by some industry commentators as the ‘new oil’, data is expected to increase 10-fold worldwide between 2017 and 2025, with 75 per cent of the global population interacting with data every day, according to International Data Corp. Driven by the growing use of mobile technologies and cloud computing by both businesses and consumers, this relatively ‘new’ global data industry is growing — and fast.

New investment opportunities

To cope, more data storage space is needed. This has led to a boom in data center construction, bringing about significant opportunities for further investment in this alternative but growing asset class — globally, data center construction is set to expand by more than 8.24 per cent to US$32.37 billion (€29.04/£25.5 billion) between 2018-2025. For example, in the Middle East alone, rapid digitisation of ‘smart cities’ is spurring the data center market, which is expected to grow annually by 7 per cent between 2018-2024.

Growing demand

To keep up with demand for ‘white’ or data storage space, the data center industry is under pressure to bring resilient, efficient and secure infrastructure and facilities to market quickly. In response, hyperscalers and operators are increasingly looking to complete site selection, acquisition, design and construction work as efficiently and innovatively as possible.

Integrated data center delivery

We believe it is possible for the industry to increase speed to market through integrated, multi-disciplinary delivery across a data center’s journey to completion.

Inception – Selecting a suitable site with appropriate power and utilities is fundamental in getting projects off the ground. Our integrated approach starts from project inception with site selection, masterplanning, environmental screening and planning permissions. Our planning experts share their in-depth knowledge and experience of navigating the complex data center planning process with our designers to ensure designs meet essential requirements needed to obtain permission.

**Design – **We develop design briefs collaboratively with clients and appropriate stakeholders. Working as a single, multi-disciplinary team enhances collaboration, driving faster delivery through seamless and efficient handover between disciplines. This ensures a flexible, resilient design that fits with the client’s requirements to ultimately satisfy their end customers more efficiently.

**Delivery – **Working closely with the client, our integrated team of architects, engineers, environment and planning specialists share knowledge of the various customer, planning and construction requirements to achieve a better, more adaptable solution. Our construction related services including on-site environmental monitoring, project management and cost consultancy ensure projects are kept on the right track, through to client handover.

Data center delivery in the Middle East

AECOM was engaged by a global corporation to design new build data center campuses on three sites in the Middle East.

Our specialist UK and Ireland Centre of Excellence data center teams collaborated with local in-country offices on the due diligence process for an initial critical load of approximately 4MW per data center complete with a shell and core suitable for 15MW, as well as an overall masterplan of 90MW per site.

During the design stage, which was achieved in five months, a significant value engineering exercise was completed to offset the impact of increased cooling loads resulting from the high local temperatures.

As a result of effective engagement with local statutory authorities, all planning, building and utility permits were successfully obtained and AECOM was subsequently retained to provide construction supervision services to the client’s construction management team.

The depth of specialist data center design knowledge held within our Centre of Excellence data center team, coupled with the in-country teams’ local knowledge that helped coordinate the permitting process, was key to the successful delivery of this project, with all parties recognising the importance of seamless communication throughout the design and construction phases.

Furthermore, we supported the local construction team throughout the build, ensuring any on-the-ground design changes were controlled and complied with the overall base design.

The benefits of an integrated approach

**Improves information transfer: **Integrated working reduces the risk of information being lost between disciplines/organisations, due to fewer interfaces. This is particularly relevant during the data center design permitting process when the feedback loop between environmental and planning specialists and designers is continuous, producing updated versions of reports or further iterations of design, requiring a high degree of collaboration.

**Streamlines communication: **Data center clients receive a single point of contact, as opposed to several, streamlining all communication, from daily and weekly progress and coordination meetings to engagement with the local authorities.

**Drives overall efficiencies: **Procuring and managing just one entity drives overall savings and greater efficiencies through reduced administration. It also avoids duplication of efforts and resources as well as the untimely coordination of interfaces.