A new city

Read in Het Parool of 22 july 2015:

Globalization. What does it mean? It means a growth of 15 per cent of internet traffic on the Ams-IX internet node last year. Ams-IX, based in Amsterdam, is the biggest internet node in the world. It’s not a node exactly, because it consists of a network of eleven centres in the Amsterdam region. Its headquarters are on the Frederiksplein in Amsterdam, where some 40 people find their job. Not that many jobs, that’s true. But Deloitte thinks more than 20.000 jobs in the Amsterdam region depend more or less on the node. Datacenters, IT-companies, you name it. Worldwide there are some 500 nodes, amongst them London, Frankfurt and Paris. Ams-IX is the only nonprofit organisation. And the biggest. Some 700 companies are clients of Ams-IX: KPN, British Telecom, Microsoft, Gasunie, Netflix, RTL, Vodafone, XS4all. More and more digital content travels through Amsterdam. The city is the third national mainport now, in the coming decades maybe the most profitable one, or at least more important already for the internet than Schiphol airport is for international flights. Amsterdam is becoming a true tech-hub, not just a smart city.

Ams-IX started in 1994, as SURFnet, a university network. Twenty years of growth has resulted in the initiative to build an international network of new nodes: New York, Chicago, Kenia, Hongkong, Curaçao, Seattle, Los Angeles. This means there are bits and pieces of digital Amsterdam developing in a global network of cities – a kind of 21ste century VOC. What does it mean in a local context, here in Amsterdam? A fast growth of new datacenters in the region, of course. What else? It attrackts lots of new companies to Amsterdam. Lots of engineers are needed. The director of Ams-IX, Mr. Witteman, told Financieele Dagblad (17 April 2015): “In The Hague they feel threatened by things that grow fast. They do not know how to handle us.” It’s not the Rotterdam harbour, nor Schiphol airport. This is different. Ams-IX is a nonprofit platform, not an institution. You cannot see it. It has nothing to do with the rest of the Netherlands. It’s a brand new world. It means real globalization. A new city will grow in its vicinity. Nobody knows. FD: “It occurs quietly, unobserved.”






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