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Simplified digital processes save citizens time, increase the efficiency of national and local governments, and ensure greater transparency.

However, being more digital also means that the volume of data – and the associated computing and storage capacity – keeps rising significantly, which is a matter of concern for sustainability advocates. The digitalization of public administration must therefore be driven from an efficiency as well as an environmental perspective. Reliable, high-performance data centers are indispensable in this regard.

From paper to online: the transformation of public administration

Instant access to reliable data is valuable in critical situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper-based processes are not conducive to speedy decision-making and do not support resource conservation. In 2017, for example, the German federal government and agencies consumed about 1.25 billion sheets of paper – a quantity that, assuming standard paper weight, would have resulted in a stack of paper reaching more than 100km into space.

In Germany, the Online Access Act has given new impetus to transform these processes and make numerous administrative services available online by the end of 2022. There is a long road ahead to achieve the goal of comprehensive digital public administration. And climate protection and digitization are not mutually exclusive – quite the opposite.

The drive for energy efficiency

Small, decentralized data centers operated by individual public authorities are more difficult to protect against failures, operate less efficiently and cannot be run in as climate-friendly a manner as large colocation data centers.

In addition, operators such as NTT Global Data Centers have been working for years on concepts and technologies to reduce their energy consumption. This helps them to counter the effect of rising energy costs and contributes to the sustainability goals of their own businesses and those of their data center clients.

Optimized cooling concepts such as using groundwater cooling or raising the temperature in server rooms significantly reduce data centers’ electricity consumption.

Climate neutrality by 2030; sustainable innovations today

Under the terms of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP), which was concluded in 2021, an alliance of data center operators and associations has committed to operate European data centers in a climate-neutral manner by 2030.

As a founding member of the CNDCP, we commissioned two additional data center buildings in Berlin in October 2022. They not only operate in a highly energy-efficient manner but also contribute significantly to decarbonizing the regional heat supply. The Berlin 2 Data Center campus is located on the site of the former Marienpark gas plant, in the middle of a rapidly growing industrial park. In cooperation with the energy supplier GASAG and Investa Real Estate, up to 20% of the waste heat can be fed into a local heating network.

The scale of this project is unusual in Germany, as the necessary heat network infrastructure is usually lacking in the vicinity of data centers. However, this is changing at many locations, supported by local utilities and the administration.

High availability, even in critical situations

Amid these sustainability and efficiency efforts, the most important function of a data center is to ensure the security and availability of IT-systems – especially against the backdrop of digitization at the federal and state level.

Environmental protection should not take precedence over the public administration's ability to act. Sensitive data relating to citizens that is processed in these data centers must be protected from unauthorized access or loss, while central administrative processes must keep functioning smoothly in the event of a crisis such as a nationwide power outage.

This is why large data centers in Germany are classified as critical infrastructure (CRITIS) and must meet the strict security requirements of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

Comprehensive security and continuity measures

Colocation data centers, such as those built and operated by our Global Data Centers division, offer maximum physical protection through the architecture of their buildings security and alarm systems as well as state-of-the-art access control systems. In addition, redundant and uninterruptible power supplies, powerful fire protection systems and redundant cooling systems ensure secure operation of the IT systems. Emergency measures and processes are checked regularly, and our data centers are operated and protected by qualified personnel 24/7.

Leasing data center capacity from a specialized service provider like NTT therefore creates a secure foundation for the digitalization of public administration while promoting sustainable energy use.

Do you want to talk about our sustainable initiatives across locations or ask questions about our data center services and products? Contact our data center experts by phone at +49 69 7801-2190, by email at or via the contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Günter Eggers is Director Public at NTT Global Data Centers EMEA