The Future of...

The Future of Connectography

How global metro-interconnection is powering the world’s megacities

Nathan Record

Amidst current international trade wars and tariffs, there is a global connectivity revolution going on that could surpass the gross domestic product (GDP) of many countries: Connectography. As described in a TED talk by author Parag Khana, connectography represents the evolution from legally dividing the world with nations and borders to how we’re actually living and working in the world using infrastructures and supply chains.[i]

According to Khana:

“The global connectivity revolution, in all of its forms –­ transportation, energy and communications – has enabled such a quantum leap in the mobility of people, of goods, of resources, of knowledge, such that we can no longer even think of geography as distinct from it. In fact, I view the two forces as fusing together into what I call ‘connectography.’”

Worldwide urbanization is driving megacity connectography

Massive urbanization is happening worldwide. According to the 2018 United Nations World Urbanization Prospect, 55% of the global population today lives in urban areas. This is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.  By 2030, the UN predicts the world will have more than 40 megacities – a single or multiple metropolitan areas with more than 10 million inhabitants and shared infrastructure. According to the UN report, some of the fastest-growing urban agglomerations are cities with fewer than one million inhabitants, many of them located in Asia and Africa.[ii]

In his TED Talk, Khana outlines megacities in North America such as the one that spans along the Eastern U.S. corridor from Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. The world’s largest megacity is in Japan, stretching from Tokyo to Nagoya to Osaka with more than 80 million people, and represents the majority of Japan’s economy. Many of these megacities will significantly contribute to the global GDP, as illustrated in the map below. Khana predicts that “any number of these megacity clusters has a GDP approaching two trillion dollars – that’s almost the same as all of India today.”

Population Density of the World’s Megacities

SOURCE: Shifting the focus of global economic activity.    (Connectography)

Interconnection powers megacity connectography

Urbanization creates the demand for real-time interactions between users and digital services. These interactions fuel digital business, ultimately contributing significantly to the value of the global economy. According to IDC, by 2021 at least 50% of the global GDP will be digitized with growth in every industry, driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations and relationships.[iii]

However, without private interconnection to directly and securely connect people, locations, clouds, data and things, the connections that drive digital commerce aren’t possible. This positions private interconnection as a cornerstone of megacity connectography. This is one of the many reasons that between 2017 and 2021, global private interconnection between businesses (enterprises and service providers) is expected to almost double the expected annual growth rate of global IP traffic, according to the Global Interconnection Index Volume 2, a market study published by Equinix. By 2021, global installed Interconnection Bandwidth[iv] capacity is expected to reach 8,200 Tbps, a five-fold increase over five years, with double-digit growth across all industries.

The public internet is ubiquitous and applicable for many applications, however, for latency-sensitive apps and secure high volume data exchange, direct private interconnection is needed. Private interconnection across expanding global metros provides the proximate high-bandwidth and low-latency connections required to support dynamic digital business interactions and data exchanges for the world’s megacities at scale. It also enables the direct and secure connection between distributed businesses and counterparty ecosystems across metros, regions and countries to ensure data security, privacy and compliance across megacity infrastructures.

Global Interconnection Bandwidth Growth Across All Industries

Metro-interconnection shapes a new global digital business map

If megacity connectography is changing the map of the world, then global metro-interconnection is drawing a new map for digital business. By way of example, Platform Equinix® interconnects more than 35 global metro markets across five continents via Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™). ECX Fabric globally connects distributed infrastructure and ecosystems on Platform Equinix using software-defined interconnection. In the map below you can see the powerful connectography ECX Fabric is creating between the megacities of Seattle, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles; Helsinki, Amsterdam and Munich; and Tokyo/Osaka, Hong Kong and Singapore.

ECX Fabric enables the metro-interconnection required to drive digital business across geographically distributed markets around the world.

For the global business on Platform Equinix, ECX Fabric enables them to interconnect to rich digital (e.g., network, cloud, SaaS) and business (e.g., financial, manufacturing, media and content) ecosystems at the digital edge. With this modern digital infrastructure in place, a retailer in Seattle and San Francisco can directly and securely gain access to a SaaS-based digital payments partner in Los Angeles. A German automotive manufacturer can quickly and seamlessly move business flows across its hybrid cloud supply chain between Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich. A Chinese-based online gaming provider can deliver non-stop performance from multiple clouds to players across Asia and around the world.

ECX Fabric can enable uses cases such as these for companies in industries all over the world. It is because of this innovative contribution within the technology industry that Equinix recently received the 451 Firestarter award  from leading technology research and advisory firm 451 Research.

Businesses in interconnected metros on Platform Equinix can cost-effectively access virtual network services and clouds in minutes to accelerate their digital transformation. Network Edge enables enterprises to scale IT and network services globally, and create global hybrid and multicloud infrastructures via ECX Fabric. ECX Fabric and Network Edge are also instrumental for integrating emerging technologies that are vital to the success of megacity connectography, such as 5G, internet of things, and blockchain.

Learn more about how you can leverage ECX Fabric and Network Edge virtual interconnection services so your business can thrive in the era of megacity connectography.

Like to learn more about technology and future trends?  Check out more blog posts in our “The Future Of…” series.


[i] Parag Khanna, “How megacities are changing the map of the world,” 2016.

[ii] United Nations, “United Nations World Urbanization Prospect: The 2018 Revision,” 2018.

[iii] IDC, “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions,” 2017.

[iv] Interconnection Bandwidth is the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic with a diverse set of counterparties and providers at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation centers.


Nathan Record
Nathan Record Director of Product Marketing