The Rise of the Interconnected Megacity

Sara Baack
The Rise of the Interconnected Megacity

“I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today, more than half of the world’s people live in urban environments and the United Nations estimates that by 2030, nearly 9% of us will live in cities alongside at least 10 million neighbors.

World’s Population By Size Class of Settlement, 1990 – 2030

Source: United Nations Report on Cities 2016

As we all get closer and closer to each other, it’s natural to wonder what all this proximity will mean to how we live. One thing is clear: as our communities become more connected, digital technologies have the potential to help our cities run better, improve our public services, and enrich our safety and quality of life.

The rise of the “Smart City”

Densely populated city communities thrive on a tightly woven fabric of shared public systems, services, and experiences. But what if we could better leverage all of this urban Interconnection and the data it produces to live better lives? That’s the idea behind the rise of smart cities, which as the Wall Street Journal describes, “…draw on the reams of data at their disposal – about income, burglaries, traffic, fires, illnesses, parking citations and more – to tackle many of the problems of urban life.”

Smart city solutions can make life more convenient. For example in San Francisco, IoT smart parking navigation helps drivers on the hunt quickly find empty parking spaces. In Santander, Spain, 10,000 sensors embedded in street lamps, building walls, and under parking lots collect data on the city’s traffic, weather, and people making that data available to citizens via a smartphone application that delivers real-time transit information, cultural event schedules, tourist information, and retail offers.

A more interconnected city can also be a safer and more sustainable place to live. For example following a series of devastating floods and mudslides in 2010, Rio de Janeiro teamed up with IBM to integrate information from 30 city agencies into a central command center, mapping areas that were at high risk of flood-related landslides and developing an early warning and evacuation system for the low-income residents of the city’s favelas. And “Copenhagen Connecting” uses wireless data from cell phones, GPS systems in buses, and sensors in sewers and garbage cans to help reduce congestion, air pollution, and CO2 emissions.

All of this is possible only because digital infrastructures exist that can physically link dispersed machines and sensors, so they can exchange information in real time. Interconnection, defined as private data exchange between businesses, is the critical component here. The examples above show how invaluable Interconnection can be to a population’s well-being. And to tap all this potential value, Interconnection between people and applications, data, content, clouds, and networking needs to be colocated in major metro hubs.

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Urbanization drives up Interconnection Bandwidth demand

Megacities can’t fully thrive without scalable, interconnected digital services and technologies that are proximate to growing urban populations. And according to the “Global Interconnection Index” market study we recently published, as the need for digital and Interconnection expands in urban communities, so does the demand for Interconnection Bandwidth capacity.

Consider the estimated Interconnection Bandwidth growth projections of the leading global metros in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America in the diagram below. As the world’s leading financial center, London is expected to surpass New York, Singapore, and São Paulo in estimated Interconnection Bandwidth capacity by 2020. However, São Paulo’s Interconnection Bandwidth growth is estimated to accelerate at a 68% CAGR as more infrastructure gets built (i.e., data centers, submarine cables) and in-region policies become increasingly business-friendly.

Interconnection deepens global digital business impact

As urban sprawl expands and the world’s megacities further concentrate populations, Interconnection is extending the reach and impact of digital business. By implementing Interconnection hubs in strategic metro locations, an enterprise, public agency, or network/cloud service provider can scale its digital platforms to meet the increasing needs of urban dwellers in ways that drive new revenue or new value.

One France-based company that has seized this opportunity is V-Traffic, a leading provider of real-time traffic and mobility information services in Europe. The company supplies up-to-date traffic information to in-vehicle navigators, broadcasters, and digital signage in seven European countries. V-Traffic requires real-time processing of massive amounts of data. Reliability is paramount and the data has to be available to its customers at all times. We worked with V-Traffic to re-architect its infrastructure for the digital edge, bringing the company’s applications closer to its users to reduce latency, optimize performance, and provide greater redundancy as it innovates to meet customer needs in new ways.

Many U.S. cities take their cues on how to deploy digital technologies and deliver new cloud-based IT services via their state-run technology office. We are currently working alongside our cloud platform partners to help a number of federal, state, and city/county government agencies design, test, and deploy Interconnection infrastructures for interconnected government, cloud, and disaster recovery implementations.

And in Australia, we helped the Yarra City Council modernize its legacy IT infrastructure by moving to our new Melbourne data center and deploying a hybrid cloud environment. They now take advantage of direct and secure Interconnection to critical cloud service providers, reducing complexity and costs and improving reliability.

Urbanization is changing the landscape of our lives. It will be exciting to see how private industry and the public sector continue to harness the power of Interconnection to improve and enrich how we work, live, and play.

Read the Global Interconnection Index to learn more about how your company can leverage Interconnection to scale your digital business and benefit from the explosive growth of global urbanization.

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