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Australia-first $220 million ICT centre opens

Australia’s largest purpose-built ICT facility, the $220 million Polaris Centre in Queensland, will begin operation on Tuesday 3rd February, hosting mission-critical ICT systems for government departments and corporate enterprises such as Suncorp.

Dubbed ‘Australia’s Digital Fortress’, the Polaris Data Centre is both terrorist- and earthquake-proof and was designed as a primary and secondary disaster recovery site for critical ICT information.

The centre will act as an internet data centre and carrier interconnect exchange site for its high profile tenants, which include Suncorp, NEC Citec, ICC and EDS.

The biggest of the firms using Polaris is Suncorp, while telecommunications giant NEC plans to use Polaris as a reserve site in case earthquakes should strike Japan.

The Tier 3+ data storage facility is located in the Queensland satellite town of Greater Springfield, 25km west of Brisbane. It will be “opened for business” by the Hon Robert Schwarten state MP minister for public works, housing and information and communication.

It will then be immediately locked down behind an impenetrable wall of bullet-proof glass, biometric fingerprint scanners, dark fibre network and state-of-the-art ‘man traps’, according to Polaris.

The five-storey centre was developed by the Springfield Land Corporation in partnership with Suncorp and constructed by Thiess while ICT Master Planners Strategic Directions were responsible for the technical design.

Strategic Directions spokesperson, Mike Andrea — who also designed the Treasury Data Centre in Canberra — said that anyone attempting to enter the Polaris Centre after the lock down would need to breach no less than five levels of security before they could penetrate the building, which is already being rated as one of Australia’s most secure.

“Such a mission would require him to crack biometric fingerprint testing, a multitude of cameras, bullet proof glass and a series of purpose-built ‘man traps’ – equipped with weight-based floor sensors that trigger locks and alarms in seconds,” Andrea said.

“It will also be impossible for an intruder to follow a staff member into the building.

“The system is so sophisticated will actually weigh you and notice that your weight has changed. It will not release the internal door and will send an alarm back to the security centre. The only way to open the doors then would be to swipe a personal access card.”

The ‘man traps’ are installed on each of the three data floors in the centre, with similar ‘vehicle traps’ also covering each entry to the building.

Construction on the purpose-built Polaris Data Centre started in June 2007.

On the ground floor the Polaris Centre stores 1.5 million litres of recycled water for cooling plants and enough chemically neutral inert gas to use for fires in the three data centre floors upstairs.

Polaris also has two back-up power units in case the 22.5 megawatt on site power plant malfunctions.

The five-storey information hub comprises 14,000 square metres of floor space, with 7,000 square metres of raised floor area or net lettable space over three levels.

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