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Facebook to Open $800 Million Data Centre in Illinois

Facebook remains one of the world’s most popular websites. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, the social network shows no signs of slowing down, despite constant uproars surrounding the company’s approach to privacy and security.

In order to keep the service running at high capacity, including storing all of the personal data that exists, Facebook need to make use of data centres. These are huge collections of servers and storage systems. Whenever you browse Facebook, you can thank the data centres for keeping the site live.

Facebook have announced that they plan to build a $800 million data centre in DeKalb, Illinois. It will run only on renewable energy and create 100 jobs. A map pinpointing the planned site of the data centre shows it will be located to the south of DeKalb, off highway 88.

It’s great that the data centre will use renewable energy, since they use a lot of them. It requires a lot of power to keep servers, storage devices, and the like up and running. Not only do these systems need to be kept live, but they also need to be maintained and secured. When the world is facing an environmental crisis, it’s great to hear this. The data centre will also apparently use 80% less water than other data centres.

Facebook own the land in Illinois and has space for five buildings, two of which will be completed by 2022. Rachel Peterson, vice president of data centre strategy at Facebook, says that the company will assess whether it’s right to expand as time goes by.

Facebook own 15 other data centres globally, but this will be their first in Illinois. The around 100 new employees will include engineers, technicians, construction management, facilities management, logistic professionals, and security personnel. Data centres don’t run themselves, after all.

The company chose DeKalb because of its access to renewable energy, talent pool, and strong security partners. Cost of land is also a consideration, since there’s no point building a data centre where land is expensive – they don’t really need to be close to other facilities.

Tax breaks also help for some. In 2019, Illinois lawmakers approved a data centre tax incentive. They did this to attract tech companies and others to build data storage facilities in their borders. There are requirements to this, such as investing at least $250 million in a facility and hiring at least 20 full-time employees over five years. Facebook have gone well beyond this minimum requirement, but interestingly they haven’t applied for the state’s incentive program.

The Chicago area, of which DeKalb belongs to, ranked third in 2019 in a list of United States locations with data centre capacity. As such, it’s likely that more companies will start eyeing up Illinois as a place for their next data centre.

“It's a boon to our community, and once online, this data centre will be part of a network that connects people all over the world,” said DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith in a news release.


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