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A new industrial revolution is underway in the heart of the Irish capital as clusters of warehouses housing vast quantities of data continue to emerge.
Dublin has really embraced technology in an effort to boost its flagging and shrinking economy following the global crash in 2008. Internet behemoths such as Facebook, Apple and Google all have their European HQ’s in Dublin and the city has become the continent’s No.1 data hub.
A familiar term within the ICT ecosystem is that ‘data is the new oil’ and will fuel the global economy. Those sentiments were echoed by Brian Roe, Commercial Director of Serve-Centric, which is a data center company.
Roe said, “Data is the new oil, definitely. These powerhouse developments provide 24/7/365 access to the massive data, processing power and storage that digital services around Europe require. People are saying, ‘Well everything is going to come from the cloud’. Well where's the cloud? The cloud is data centers."
Ireland’s industry lobby group Host has said the new phenomenon has become the unlikely engine room for everything from video streaming to phone apps and social media.
In addition to this, progressive government incentives, a highly-skilled workforce and high connectivity to Europe and America are helping attract data center construction investment which is expected to reach nine billion euros ($10 billion) by 2021.
The sector employs 5,700 people in full-time equivalent roles including 1,800 as data center operators, according to a report produced for Ireland's investment agency. Many of Ireland’s brightest young talent were forced to emigrate after the recession, but many are no returning to avail of the exciting new opportunities presented by Dublin’s transformation into a tech hub.
Data has become a hot topic in Europe following the introduction of GDPR. Enterprises have been forced to examine their data harvesting and storage practices in a more forensic manner. Consumers have also now been awakened to the dangers of providing their data online following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which emerged last year.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which provides cloud services for hire -- is a particular concern for Paul O' Neill, a researcher based at Dublin City University. "The ethical implications of hosting AWS data centers in Ireland are potentially vast," he said.
AWS, which has announced plans to expand its Dublin operations, sells controversial facial recognition technology to US police.
"These corporations are or have been involved in many of the dominant controversies and debates of our contemporary networked era including privacy, data breaches and surveillance.”
Snap Inc. is the company behind the popular photo and video sharing messaging application Snapchat. The company announced on January 10 that it has chosen London as the location of its international headquarters, and highlighted the United Kingdom’s creative industries as the reason for its choice.
Other tech leaders including Facebook, Google and Apple also announced their investments in London last year. The city has garnered a reputation for being a technology hub, which could stand it in good stead as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.
“I am happy to confirm that the UK is the Snap Inc. family’s hub outside the US,” said a Snap Inc. spokesperson. The company’s UK general manager, Claire Valoti, added: “The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we’ve already begun to hire talent.”
Snap Inc. has around 75 staff in the UK, up from six a year ago, and is said to be looking to add a nearby site to its office in London’s Soho district. The success of the company’s popular disappearing message application in the region is clear, with a reported 50 million daily Snapchat users out of a total of 150 million daily users worldwide.
Snap Inc.'s UK entity will book revenues from customers in the UK and countries where there is no local entity or sales force. The company’s only other European entity is in Paris.
In line with Snap Inc.’s growing profile, reports surfaced in November 2016 that the company filed confidential paperwork for a public share offering which valued the messaging platform at more than $20 billion. It would be among the biggest IPO’s in the tech sector in recent years.