Fairlawn City in Ohio is developing a new data center for a municipal fiber ring.

Akron.com reports that Fairlawn City Council last week unanimously approved rezoning land on 951 South Cleveland-Massillon Road for the $35 million Summit Connects data center & fiber ring project. Fairlawn is located to the south of Cleveland.

Fairlawn City Ohio Data center.png
– Google Maps

Around 5.5-acres in Summit County’s Fairlawn Corporate Park, previously zoned as a B-4 office park/research district, will now become an M-1 municipal district (institutional) for a 20,000 ft data center site to support the Summit County-Fairlawn Fiber Ring and Data Center Project.

The data center, approved by Council in July and expected to cost $22 million, is part of a partnership between Fairlawn and Summit County to create a fiber ring public safety network for 31 communities, funded entirely using federal funds (most of which will be drawn from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)). The data center will also hold IT hardware for a number of local departments and agencies.

Groundbreaking is planned for next year and the county expects the fiber ring and data center to be operational by 2025.

“We’re looking at building a state-of-the-art Tier IV data center at that location,” said Ernie Staten Director of Public Service for Fairlawn, Ohio. “It will be the beginning and the end of the 150-mile fiber ring that will encompass the entire county. We’ll be government-centric there so it will be a place that governments can have cloud access and backup storage at this data center.”

“It will also be the location of (Municipal Broadband Utility) FairlawnGig’s customer service, along with the backup joint dispatch. The joint dispatch in Tallmadge will be backed up 100 percent at this location.”

Fairlawn has already had some success with municipal fiber. In January 2017, the city launched FairlawnGig, a municipal broadband network serving the entire city of 1,590 homes and 250 businesses. Spanning five square miles within the City of Fairlawn and the Akron/ Bath/ Fairlawn Economic Development District, the fiber network passes every residence and business offering symmetrical data rates up to 1 Gigabit to households and up to 10 Gigabits to businesses. Fujitsu was selected as network integrator for the project. FairlawnGig will manage the Summit Connect ring and facility.

“When we took a leap of faith in 2014 to create the FairlawnGig, it came out great for the City. It's something that I believe has been a great benefit to our area. We have shown the County what a municipal utility can do when private entities are not willing or unable to step forward and provide for the needs of our businesses and our residents,” Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth said in July. “This [data center & fiber] project is mainly underlined with safety needs and communications. It's a huge advancement for our County with the fiber ring and the data center. It's something that we can all be proud of. In the future, it's definitely going to put Summit County, Ohio on the map as far as data centers and your services.”

Fairlawn currently operates two data centers, one for its FairlawnGig service, and a backup facility. Part of the land for the new facility has been set aside and could handle a second 20,000-square-foot building, according to local officials.

In the second phase of the project, the County will work to explore the feasibility of expanding Summit Connects through internet service providers to residents, businesses, schools, and other interested entities.

ARPA funding has been directed by local officials across the US to a number of digital infrastructure projects, including a new police data center and a university supercomputing center.

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