May 14 2024
Data Center

State and Local Governments Can Sustainably Build a Strong Data Center Foundation

On-premises computing resources, maintained responsibly, can launch artificial intelligence initiatives and more.

Over the past year, the world has begun to grasp the potential of artificial intelligence in workplace and business settings. Today, it is acknowledged as a significant transformative force, with companies in healthcare, finance and other sectors spearheading the adoption of AI technologies to boost operational efficiency.

The U.S. government has also recognized the inevitability of wide AI adoption, with the Biden administration issuing an executive order promoting the “safe, secure, and trustworthy” development and use of artificial intelligence.

Indeed, AI can enhance state and local government efficiencies by automating routine tasks and enabling data-driven decisions. For instance, leveraging machine learning to analyze large data sets could better match skill sets with government job opportunities. AI models could also speed up the review of forms across various agencies. Additionally, AI can bolster cybersecurity efforts by analyzing historical data to anticipate future threats and vulnerabilities.

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State and Local Agencies Need a Solid Footing for Data Centers

For government agencies to harness the full potential of AI, establishing a vast data center infrastructure is of paramount importance. Such an infrastructure would be the engine to meet AI workload demands, which require significantly more computing power and faster network speeds.

Among other foundational elements, many state and local agencies lack the high computing power and cooling capacity to fully capitalize on AI’s advantages. Current systems cannot handle the complex AI data pipelines, particularly for machine learning models.

Sustainability Is Critical to Government Data Centers

However, upgrading or retrofitting existing data centers is no easy feat. The challenge with expanding data centers lies in the clash with climate-related mandates, given that data centers already contribute to 2 percent of global electricity consumption, a figure that could double by 2026. And, according to a McKinsey report, “cooling accounts for some 40 percent of a data center’s energy consumption.” To facilitate further data center expansion, it is vital to strike a balance between energy consumption and sustainability goals.

The U.S. government is promoting energy-efficient technologies through initiatives such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. This program allocates funding to local governments for projects that reduce fossil fuel emissions. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency provides resources and guidance for energy management in data centers. These include tools for assessing energy usage, implementing energy-efficient practices and tracking progress toward sustainability goals.

Technologies such as liquid cooling and innovative airflow management systems can be used to support the energy-efficient growth of government data center infrastructure. These solutions help to maintain optimal operating temperatures within data centers, reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

LEARN MORE: Consider three key approaches to data center automation.

Partners Can Support Sustainable Infrastructure

Vertiv, a global leader in critical infrastructure and continuity solutions, takes a comprehensive approach to optimizing data centers for AI workloads. It stands out as a key provider of liquid cooling technology for data centers, which it offers in various configurations, including rear-door heat exchangers, direct-to-chip cooling and immersion cooling. Liquid cooling outperforms air cooling by over 3,000 times in heat conductivity (conductive cooling) and consumes less energy, with common configurations using liquid cooling to control server temperatures and air-cooled systems to manage temperature and airflow in the rest of the data center. Such configurations can efficiently cool racks of 50kW and higher along with the data center space.

The integration of AI in government operations brings opportunities and challenges. As AI evolves, it can enhance public sector efficiencies, safety and cybersecurity. Successful AI adoption relies on robust data center infrastructures for energy and computing needs, but it must also prioritize environmental responsibility.

State and local governments can benefit from industry leaders, who are committed to data center efficiency and sustainability, strengthening innovation through collaborations with key partners, such as NVIDIA and Intel, and industry groups, including the Open Compute Project and the Liquid Cooling Coalition.

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