Never before in history has so much data been available. This provides enormous opportunities for those who know how to use or process this data and with access to the necessary technology. The data centre ICE is run by RISE and helps companies and other businesses to analyse and process data by means of computing power and software and hardware testing.
The approximately 900 square metre ICE Data Centre is roughly situated between Luleå University of Technology and Facebook’s data centre. ICE stands for Infrastructure and Cloud Research and Test Environment. The reason the data centre was built here in 2016 was largely due to the availability of electric power, but also since the world-famous neighbour made many people realise that Sweden needed independent open data centres in order to be competitive and challenge the rest of the world.
As our society increasingly revolves around data, it is imperative that there are operators able to analyse and process the data and help companies develop their business with regard to data. ICE is such an operator.
– “Our mission is to help Swedish industry and the public sector but, since we are in Luleå, we also have a regional mission and also help companies here in the region,” says Tor Björn Minde, unit manager at ICE.
In fact, there are only a few similar facilities in the world with the same knowledge and expertise in one place.
– "Facebook, Microsoft and Ericsson have bigger and better internal facilities than us, but if you count open facilities where companies can come and do experiments and tests, this is probably one of the largest facilities in the world and we are indubitably European leaders,” says Minde.
In order to retain its industry-leading position, ICE also collaborates with foreign companies, both in Europe and further afield.
– “If we are to help advanced companies, we must be one step ahead, otherwise we provide no benefit to them,” explains Minde. “So we work with the best to maintain and build on our own cutting-edge expertise.”
Small businesses do not need to build their own data centre in order to test their equipment
Four work areas
Today, there are four major work areas, and it was the division focusing on testing and development of equipment linked to the operation of data centres from which everything else originated. Advanced tests and research can now be conducted on heat recovery, electric power, cooling and automated control using wind tunnels and climate and heating chambers, which regulate temperature and humidity.
– “We can simulate any climate in the world and we also try to make use of the waste heat from the data centre through, for example, various methods for horticultural and agricultural experiments,” says Minde.
ICE is also able to support companies and businesses that have a need to analyse and process proprietary data and analyse how it can best be utilised. Through the service ICE Connect, companies gain access to, among other things, computing power for complex calculations as well as an array of cloud services with software programs for analysis needs.
– “As part of this service, we can also offer the services of our experts, who can then work together with the company,” says Minde.
One company that has taken up this offer is Scania. The aim was to investigate how data collected while driving with the company’s trucks could be used.
– “They brought their data to us and used one of our data platforms, and our staff helped them. Using the data, they were able to see what information the drivers needed while driving,” says Minde.
5G enables new applications
One of ICE’s most recent work areas focuses on what is referred to as edge computing. The method has been made possible by the expansion of the 5G network and is an important element in increasing the areas of use of mobile phones and other connected equipment. The computing equipment is installed at a 5G base station, which reduces latency and disruption. This is an important aspect since our phones and the applications we use are demanding more and more data and computation.
– “It allows for applications that were not previously possible, typically involving latency-sensitive real-time services,” says Minde, citing AR applications and AR glasses as examples.
Together with the Swedish National Space Agency, ICE is also developing a platform to analyse satellite data over time. The EU’s Earth observation programme Copernicus continuously collects satellite data across Europe, but no Swedish database for the information exists at present.
– “We are now developing a platform through which we can offer this data and associated services to government agencies. Examples of typical projects include monitoring vegetation encroachment around Lake Vänern and drought in Mälardalen, and then comparing between different years,” says Minde.
In the past, different government agencies developed a few proprietary services linked to satellite data, which is both costly and time-consuming.
– “This is a collective approach with the aim of making it better, easier and cheaper,” says Minde.
Test and evaluate without large investments
One important purpose of the entire operation, which is especially valuable for small and medium-sized enterprises, is the ability to test and evaluate equipment and data without the need for large investments of their own.
– “Small businesses do not need to build their own data centre in order to test their equipment. Instead, they can rent ours during the time they need to. We can also offer advice on how to secure funding for our services,” concludes Minde.