Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 78 ›› Issue (2): 259-272.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202302001

• National Innovation System and Globalization of Science and Technology •     Next Articles

Spatial evolution of new infrastructure and its determinants: A case study of big data centers

WANG Jiaoe1,2(), DU Fangye3(), XIAO Fan1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 611731, China
  • Received:2021-10-05 Revised:2022-12-25 Online:2023-02-25 Published:2023-02-16
  • Contact: DU Fangye;
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of National Fund of Philosophy and Social Science of China(20&ZD099);National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars(42225106)


Data center is a new infrastructure system based on new development concepts, technological innovation, and information networks. It provides services for digital transformation, smart upgrading, and integrated innovation to meet the needs of high-quality development. The new infrastructure covers the construction of 5G base stations, intercity high-speed rail, intercity rail transit, new energy vehicle charging piles, big data centers, artificial intelligence, and industrial internet. It could promote resource integration, nurture new growth points, and shape new locations. Analyzing the spatial patterns of new infrastructures and their influencing factors is of great significance for understanding the regional development advantages. Using the data center as an example, this paper explores the spatial distribution and determinants of new infrastructure. Since the data center is not only infrastructure but also a strategic emerging industry, it is different from traditional infrastructure in terms of technical requirements and energy consumption. Since this difference will be reflected in the spatial layout, this paper proposes the macro layout principle of the data center. Then, the evolution characteristics and influencing factors of the spatial pattern of data centers in China are analyzed, and the following conclusions are drawn: (1) The macroscopic distribution of data centers should follow four principles: demand-oriented, cost oriented, operating environment-oriented, and safety oriented. (2) The distribution of data centers presents a spatial structure centered on the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Chengdu-Chongqing urban agglomeration. (3) Economic development, internet development, the number of high-tech enterprises, labor costs, and educational institutions have a positive impact on the macro layout of data centers. The impacts of location conditions, land costs, and layout policies of data centers on their macro layout begin to appear at a certain stage. (4) There are three types of data center distribution models in China: demand-orientated, cost-oriented, and demand-cost-operating environment-oriented. At present, the data center in China is demand-oriented and will develop into a comprehensive demand-cost-operating environment-oriented model in the future. Our conclusion could provide guidance and suggestions for scientific site selection and the optimal layout of data centers.

Key words: data center, infrastructure, new infrastructure, spatial layout, Tobit model, China