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How to protect data centers from flooding

Take three wise hardening measures to avoid downtime.

How to protect data centers from flooding

Extreme weather related events and rising sea levels are a growing threat to critical communication infrastructure, and hundreds of data centers around the world now need protection against water ingress and flooding. It is critical to maintain operational reliability and reduce the risk of downtime.

Downtime is costly for owners and operators: the average data center outage costs USD 740,357. Among the most common causes of downtime are weather related events. 

Flooding causes downtime  

Natural disasters involving flooding cause huge economic damage. Terrifying examples are Hurricane Sandy, which caused outages in data centers in New York, USA, in 2012, and the extreme rainfall that led to an outage in communication facilities in Leeds, UK, in 2015. In both cases, it took days to recover. Even in less extreme circumstances, water can cause failure affecting business operations. 


Frightening future forecasts

Increased frequency of coastal, fluvial or pluvial flooding is expected to damage key assets such as cables, masts, pylons, data centers, telephone exchanges, base stations or switching centers. There are predictions saying that 235 data centers will be affected by the rise in sea level already by 2030. 

Hardening is the solution

So what can you do to protect the critical infrastructure? Jason Hood, former Global Infrastructure Segment Manager of sealing specialist Roxtec, has a clear answer consisting of three hardening measures: 

  1. Ensure the right location from the start. Place your data center in a low risk area with minimum risk of high water table or long-term effects of humidity.
  2. Design to secure your entire facility. It is crucial to protect all your equipment, including generators, switchgear and fiber networks, from the risk of humidity and partial discharge.
  3. Use efficient sealing solutions. Use best practice when sealing all openings, such as for cables and pipes.

Do you want to know more? Read sealing expert Jason Hood’s paper “Water Mitigation in Data Centers. Preparing for Natural Disasters and Climate Change” and learn how to avoid downtime.