Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 78 ›› Issue (8): 1936-1954.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202308006

• Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial characteristics and location selection of global data center expansion

LI Yuan1(), LIU Chengliang1,2(), MAO Weisheng1, XIE Yongshun3,4   

  1. 1. School of Urban & Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. Institute for Global Innovation & Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    4. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2022-07-27 Revised:2023-04-19 Online:2023-08-25 Published:2023-08-15
  • Contact: LIU Chengliang;
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of National Social Science Foundation of China(21ZDA011)


With the coming of digital economy era, the development and application of information technology revolution, such as 5G, cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, production and living of human are being deeply affected. The data center is an important new infrastructure that integrates data storage, analysis, processing and application. It is increasingly important in the global data value chain and plays a strong supporting role in the global digital development. In this context, it is of great significance to clarify the multi-spatial scale expansion laws and location selection mechanism of global data centers, and layout them scientifically and reasonably. This paper integrates spatial statistics, spatial analysis, and spatial measurement methods, and conducts empirical research on the spatio-temporal differentiation and influencing factors of global data center expansion from 2005 to 2020. The results show that: (1) The spatial expansion trend of the global data center is obvious, and the growth center and the economic center move eastward, forming three major growth cores in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. From the perspective of city scale, city clusters and metropolitan areas are the main spatial carriers of expansion, while a few cities such as Beijing, Tokyo, and Shanghai are the central hubs. (2) The spatial expansion characteristics of the data centers can be divided into contact expansion mode, point growth mode and agglomeration growth mode. (3) The location selection of data center spatial expansion is jointly affected by market size, element supply, and operating environment. However, the measurement method and spatial scale factors in selecting a country or a city are not completely consistent. From the perspective of global scale, market size is the most important factor, and the influence of element supply and operating environment show different stage characteristics; city scale is significantly affected by market size, element supply, and security level.

Key words: data center, digital infrastructure, digital economy, spatio-temporal pattern, location selection, influencing factor, global