Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon all to build giant data centers near Taupo in New Zealand

Actually, it’s not true. Let me state categorically that Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are not going to build massive data centers near Taupo in New Zealand. Or anywhere in the Southern hemisphere that I am aware of. And at least not any time soon.

This is a photo of the inside of a data centre

However, I got to thinking about this recently. What if they did? What would it mean for the small town that I live in. Personally, I think that this would be great. I do realize though that a lot of people would not think so.

For starters, Taupo (small town NZ) is a hopeless town for starters. For starters or start ups of any kind. It’s really hard to start anything in Taupo.

In fact, the people are so weird about anything new that street performers who busk in Taupo don’t often come back after one exposure to the locals. I know this because I used to sell them guitar stings in a former life.

They were going to start a university college in Taupo a few years back. Initially I though it was a joke as it was an Irish university. That wasn’t the funny part. University of Limerick. That was the funny part. Turns out there really is a University of Limerick. Even funnier. In any case, it didn’t start.

University of Limerick in Ireland

Luckily, I started my business in another place and then moved to Taupo. I’m not sure now really why this was. The moving to Taupo part. However, I’m here now. I’m hoping to transform my education business into an internet edtech startup. However, I’m having a hard time starting. I blame Taupo. And myself.

But back to the big four. Here are my selfish reasons for wanting Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple to all build giant data farms just out of Taupo in the central North Island of New Zealand.

  1. New Zealand is a really cool country. Despite the non-starter nature of my funny little town, I live in a really beautiful place. We have it all when it comes to the outdoors. There are mountains, lakes, rivers, native bush, beautiful views, and four pretty reasonable seasons. What clever Google exec wouldn’t want to raise her kids here? My kids need some new friends so we all win.
  2. Data centers could harness New Zealand’s geothermal energy. It’s hip to be environmental these days. And companies like Google and friends know it. How cool would it be to run a huge data farm off clean, cheap geothermal energy. Well I’m not entirely sure that it’s particularly cheap, but who cares. We’re talking about companies will money to burn. Geothermally powered data centers could be the next big thing and the Taupo volcanic plateau has plenty of energy. I’d like to charge a small royalty for publicizing the idea. 5% of turnover would be fine.
  3. It’s not too hot and not too cold. Data farms apparently generate a lot of heat and need cooling. I think I read that somewhere. Anyway, we live on a plateau that is elevated 1,168 feet (356 m) above sea level. It’s nice in Summer, but it’s not too hot. It’s cold in winter, but it’s not covered in snow. The temperate climate could lend itself to innovative ways of coolng by using air from the surrounding area. Happy to consult further as required.
  4. New Zealand and the whole southern hemisphere needs high speed broadband and related services. The Asia Pacific region and entire southern hemisphere need high speed broadband and related services including cloud computing just as much as Europe and North America. The presence of a bunch of enormous data farms in New Zealand would encourage IT infrastructure development for the rest of the world. Personally, I just want faster broadband at home and at work, so there you go.
  5. It would stimulate hi tech start ups in New Zealand. I’d have to concede that there is a bit of a start up culture in Auckland, NZ. However, it’s largely inaccessible to me. I’d rather see the start ups, start up in my own back yard. Auckland is cool… but Taupo has better scenery, is more central to the rest of the country, and very quick access to the outdoors including lake and mountains. You know, for that life-work balance thing. From my side, I just want to rub shoulders with these people and bounce ideas around for my own work.
  6. It would mean more air travel in and out of Taupo. Let’s face it. Taupo has a tiny airport and very limited inbound and outbound flights. However, Air NZ has always been driven by volume and have stated before that if the demand was there they would increase the number and frequency of flights. This would be necessary to accommodate all the Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple execs that would need to fly in to Taupo to check on how the data is going. Also, I’d be able to get home from Wellington a whole lot earlier than 8pm. That’s what this is really about.
  7. It would mean more jobs for the local and national economy. Personally, I’d be the first one knocking on the door for a job. Dear Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook: I thought of this idea first and posted the fake headline to get your attention. Please can I have a job now? I really want to work for you. I just want to live in Taupo, NZ.
  8. It would mean a national university would probably open a branch in Taupo. We already have a Polytech. However, what I really wanted when I left school was a university. I had to (eventually) leave home, move to Auckland, and go to University there to get my degree. Ok, degrees. Much better for my kids if there was a high tech university campus based in Taupo. Especially, if it was sponsored by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon due to their local involvement and investment. I’m looking at setting up a new faculty if anyone is interested: Department of Entrepreneurial Education.
  9. Cafe and restaurant culture would really mature. We are fortunate in Taupo that we have some really world class cafes and restaurants. It’s getting better and better. There are actually places you can go for an excellent coffee. However,I the presence of some international corporations would just push this to another level. Eating is really important and I’m sure I’d benefit through having more choices, particularly if these were pitched at an international audience.
  10. I wouldn’t have any more excuses not to start my own high tech internet start up venture. Well… what I’m planning is not really too high tech as I’m not planning on coding or building any of the infrastructure. However, if Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook were all here I wouldn’t really be able to rail against the non-starter culture of small town NZ. I wouldn’t have any excuses.

Because that’s all they are… excuses. Tomorrow, though is another day and I’ve got new toys to play with. Salman Kahn I’m coming for you… 

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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