How connecting cities can boost economic growth

By Eddie Tay

Equinix discusses how intercity connectivity enables the use of tech like digital twins to foster innovation and growth for cities and businesses alike.

Metropolis it may be, but Singapore topped global charts for having the highest greenery density, according to Treepedia. Amidst buildings and expressways, nature corridors connect habitats to create the green aerial view of a City in Nature, while preserving the genetic diversity and resilience of wildlife.

Digital corridors, too, exist to connect disparate companies, industries, or cities.  This connection helps businesses enjoy faster and more reliable digital connectivity, allowing for the adoption of tech like digital twins, and providing new opportunities for economic growth.

Equinix delves into how digital connectivity across cities and regions enables innovative technologies and fuels growth opportunities through improved connectivity speed.

Enabling digital twins

Digital twins are paving the way for better city planning and disaster recovery. Singapore uses a digital twin of the nation for governments to run simulations before implementing new policies. Meanwhile, a city in the Philippines uses digital twins to evaluate damage done after a typhoon.
However, innovative technologies like these require large amounts of data to function. This can be difficult in cities without cloud and network service providers, as connecting to these providers remotely limits data processing speed.

Bringing connectivity closer to users can help firms implement innovative technologies like digital twins.

For instance, engineering and construction firm CDM Smith helped a wastewater utility in the East Coast of the United States use digital twins to identify potential problems before they caused major failures. This saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs.

CDM Smith was able to do so by tapping Equinix’s network of cloud providers virtually, granting them direct access to platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. This helped users process more data simultaneously, and reduced lag time by 38 per cent when connecting to the cloud.

CDM Smith was also able to save time, with improved data processing allowing them to run simulations in mere seconds or minutes, instead of days or weeks.

Accessing foreign markets for economic growth

Intercity connectivity accelerates cross-border connections and enables businesses to easily tap rapidly growing markets to bolster their growth. It minimises the need for businesses to wade through complex regulations by providing a direct connection to the region’s top network service provider.

This is the case for firms looking to expand to the Greater China region, a dynamic market where industry regulations and standards are complex. Businesses can connect with cities in China and Taiwan through Equinix’s data centres in Hong Kong which provide private, cross-border network connections.

A good example of how interconnection can help businesses grow and better their services is the Vancouver-based commodities data insights provider, Navarik.

Intercity connectivity allowed Navarik to provide real-time information on the location and quality of petroleum and commodity products. It could also tell if shipments are late and the cause of the delay.

This was possible with real-time access to the cloud and rapid data analytics, which Equinix Seattle provided through connectivity to its global platform of data centres. The improved data processing saw Navarik shorten its platform development time from four weeks to under an hour.

Developing fledging digital economies

Intercity connectivity is also crucial for the growth of countries seeking digital transformation, but do not have native cloud or network service providers.

For instance, the cloud can help the public sector build new services quickly. Yet, accessing the cloud is difficult for cities without native cloud providers since remote connections slow down processing speeds, hindering efficiency.

The finance sector in ASEAN, for example, is eager to get on the cloud. However, they face challenges in securing direct connectivity with countries across the region. Establishing a private network where businesses can connect directly with these providers can mitigate this issue.

They can go through Equinix’s network-rich data centre based in Singapore to connect with other markets in the region. This allows them to enjoy high speed connection with minimal lag time. They can also connect with major cloud providers in the Asia-Pacific through the platform, like Alibaba Cloud.

The proverbial chicken crosses the road simply to get to the other side. But data crossing oceans and borders can do much more by charting a path for greater collaboration and partnerships. In the developing digital economy of ASEAN especially, Equinix is helping global enterprises reach the regional audience, and regional firms go global.

Eddie Tay is Senior Director, Networks, APAC at Equinix.