Data Context: An Analysis of Data Centers and Information Flow in the GTHA

Data Context: An Analysis of Data Centers and Information Flow in the GTHA

Student Author: 
Karan Manchanda
May 2015
Mona El Khafif

This report aims to understand the current siting conditions of Data Centers in the urban context today. The study area chosen is the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA); within which three sites of analysis were selected: Toronto (Downtown Core Area), Hamilton, and the Kitchener Waterloo area.

Using a set of filters and cartographic mapping, the report aims to understand some of the underlying reasoning behind Data and why it lives in certain spaces. The report attempts to take into account both physical and cultural phenomena in determining this information.

By understanding the underlying causes; and the current context(s) of where Data Centers site themselves the report then tries to postulate potential synergies for Data Centers in the future by giving a general vision but also attempting to provide some specific examples for each of the three case cities.

DATA CONTEXT is part of an idea to develop design strategies pertaining to Data Centers. This preliminary study looks towards urban areas as inspiration towards understanding their existing siting and the possibilities that are being ignored. The method is conceived as a tool through which further multiple sites can be analyzed.

DATA CONTEXT is conceived as a tool to serve the following purposes:

1. Understanding existing conditions (social organization, physical organization, linkages to a more global system)

2.Understanding future possibilities of an integrated system(s) design.

3.Support future project development: DATA CONTEXT is meant to build a basis for future thinking towards how Data Centers could be integrated in both urban and hinterland contexts.

The DATA CONTEXT model of investigation is conducted in stages:

1. The investigation starts with a (set) of perimeter(s) of observation within which the case perimeters are established.

2. The nodes (Data Centers) in the case perimeters are identified and the surrounding context are analyzed through three context filters:

// Infrastructure 

// Spatial

// Program

3.The mapping analysis then proceeds to understand and unpack the relationships within the case perimeters - it is the development of an assessment of the existing conditions within which Data Centers exist.

4. The final step of the investigation looks towards future possibilities of integration in the case perimeters; trying to understand how future design(s) could be postulated.