Perpetual Data Center Zone: A new vector of Arctic development

Perpetual Data Center Zone: A new vector of Arctic development

The discussion was attended by Maxim Parshin, Deputy Minister of Digital Development of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, Anatoly Semenov, Minister of Innovation, Digital Development and Infocommunication Technologies of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the Global IT Cooperation Center, Maxim Dankin, Director of the Russian Arctic Zone Development and Infrastructure Project Implementation Department, Sergey Masalov, Deputy General Director of Gazprom SPKA LLC, Alexey Zabrodin, Technical Director of Rostelecom Data Center and Natalia Vyakhireva, program manager of the Russian International Affairs Council. The session was moderated by Roman Yakovlev, Deputy Director General for ICT Projects in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation, ATOMDATA Group (part of the Electric Power Division of Rosatom), Head of the Rosatom Interdepartmental Working Group for the Preparation of the Concept of the Trans-Arctic Telecommunications Operator (TATO) Project. 

During the meeting the strategic issues of creating information and telecommunication infrastructure as a necessary basis for the digital development of the Arctic were discussed, including the creation of a network of disaster-resistant data centers in the northern regions, investment in infrastructure projects, the issues of effective interdisciplinary and interagency cooperation, the influence of digital projects on the social and economic development of the region, as well as the relevance of international experience in the creation of data centers in the Arctic zone and the export potential of digital technologies.

The nature of international relations in the Arctic is undergoing significant changes, according to Natalia Vyakhireva. "Given the suspension of the Arctic Council's full activities, 2022 was a turning point for Arctic cooperation. In addition, 7 of the 8 participants in the Arctic Council will soon be members of NATO, as Finland and Sweden have applied for membership in the Alliance, which may affect the nature of interaction in the Arctic. If earlier Russia traditionally gave priority to interaction with the Arctic states in regional projects, in the new conditions the emphasis is shifting to interaction with the Asian states in the Arctic, primarily with China and India. That is, if we do not count the fact that the prospects of joint projects of the BRICS countries in the Arctic are already being discussed at the expert level," she concluded. 

It is necessary to create a special economic zone in the Arctic with attractive conditions for joining projects or allocating investments, believes Vadim Gluschenko. Potential partners for digital projects in the Russian Arctic include traditional partners from the EAEU, SCO and BRICS alliances, as well as "pragmatic companion" - countries that need computing power and are interested in cargo transit and the creation of digital logistics tools and security standards for this purpose. Russia can become their "digital Klondike", routing some of the world's Internet traffic through its territory. It is assumed that those involved in the partnership will respect each other's technological and economic sovereignty. 

Rosatom is an active participant in the Arctic digital development program, moderator Roman Yakovlev noted during the session. "Last year, we began designing a modular data center at the Kola NPP industrial site in Murmansk Region. The new data center will go into commercial operation in 2024 and will be the basic infrastructure for the Northern Sea Route and Arctic digital platforms and services that are needed to provide logistics, manage smart city services, support tourism and other key areas of regional development," he said. 

SPIEF-2023 will be held June 14-17 in St. Petersburg. The main audience of the Forum are heads of large Russian and foreign companies, heads of state and political leaders, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, ministers and governors.  Over the years, the Forum has become the world's leading platform for communication between business representatives and discussion of the key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets and the world as a whole. This year, 17,000 people from 130 countries and territories have said they plan to participate.