COVID-19 and Data Centres

COVID-19 Data Centre FAQs                              

 

 

1. Are data centres classified as CNI in the UK?

2. Are data centre workers classified as Key Workers?

3. Does Key Worker status mean that staff will automatically be allowed to travel and given access to sites in the event of a full lockdown?

4. Should staff carry letters of authorisation?

5. How are operators measuring temperature on entry to site?

6. Are data centre operators restricting customer access?

7. What is government doing?

8. Where can I find out more?

9. What are other operators saying?

10. Other useful URLs

 

 

1. Are data centres classified as CNI in the UK?

Not by default.  Individual sites are designated CNI depending on their functions.  Those that are CNI will know they are.  However, Government is considering whether temporary CNI status may be conferred on data centres.

 

2. Are data centre workers classified as Key Workers?

Yes, those running Data Infrastructure were designated key workers.  See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

There relevant passage is:

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

 

The situation is unclear in Scotland as there are different tiers of key workers and this is causing confusion. 

 

3. Does Key Worker status mean that staff will automatically be allowed to travel and given access to sites in the event of a full lockdown?

No, but it is an important first step.  techUK is working intensively with government to ensure that critical staff continue to be allowed access to sites.  Government understands that there is a high degree of outsourcing and that payroll will not be the key to criticality.  We are working on a robust process. 

 

4. Should staff carry letters of authorisation?

Yes although this is not formally required, corporate letters of authorisation seem to be becoming de facto.  Just to clarify: Government has stated that no formal ID requirements have been imposed and that they do not plan to introduce authorisation letters at the moment.  However, this could change very quickly depending on how well their guidance is followed.   Companies are therefore responsible for determining who their critical staff are. Many operators have already issued their own letters of authority to staff and key contractors: those who haven’t are advised to do so because people are already being stopped and questioned.  Staff are advised to carry government issued ID, especially if their corporate pass is blank.  In terms of letters of authority, here are some of the elements already included by operators.

  • Full company header
  • Contact details in case confirmation is needed
  • A sentence saying that you provide data infrastructure and as such your staff are critical and included on the government list of key workers.    
  • Something to link the person holding the letter of authority to their ID, such as name or NI number.

 

5. How are operators measuring temperature on entry to site?

This is what we have heard from operators: This is the scanner being used to gauge temperature     http://www.visiofocus.com/index_EN.html and here is the process:
Any person entering DC MUST use the sanitizer located at the entrance, then Security personnel pass to him the scanner (through slit in the glass).

Person must point to his own forehead  (without touching the skin) and Security personnel can read the value on the forehead.
Nobody write nowhere any value: values are only READ
If temperature is UNDER 37.3° people are allowed access to the DC

Alternatively you can take a person’s temperature in a sterile manner by using a tympanic thermometer with a nitrile gloved hand.  The tymp uses a disposable single-user cap which is then ejected from the device once used.  Easy, accurate and relatively cheap.

 

6. Are data centre operators restricting customer access?

In some cases, yes.  Some are restricting numbers and others are allowing customers by appointment only.  This is to reduce footfall in the data centres.  There is an obvious balance between customer access and limiting routes for infection / contamination.  This varies by operator.

 

7. What is government doing?

DCMS has established a dedicated team for the data centre sector:  The DCMS Data Infrastructure Resilience Team. They understand the critical role that data centres play and are ensuring that this is understood across government.  The team is expecting questions and has already established a mailbox: COVID-data-resilience@culture.gov.uk  for queries from data centre operators, customers and suppliers.

 

8. Where can I find out more?

For the latest updates visit our COVID-19 information hub where there is a designated area for data centres.

You can also join our data centre mailing list which sends out regular bulletins, and listen in on our regular operator catch-up calls. Please email lucas.banach@techuk.org or emma.fryer@techuk.org

techUK has also set up a COVID-19 taskforce for information exchange across the whole tech sector: covid19.taskforce@techuk.org.

 

 

9. What are other operators saying?

Here are some sample operator statements

Digital Realty: https://www.digitalrealty.com/coronavirus-statement

Equinix: https://www.equinix.com/lp/equinix-coronavirus-statement-to-customers-and-partners/

4D Data Centres: https://www.4d-dc.com/insight/4d-data-centres-covid-19-latest-response-plan-statement

 

10. Other useful URLs

WHO Guidelines: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Latest Advice: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

PHE: Decontaminating non healthcare environments: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

For further information on techUK’s data centres programme see our programme overview: https://www.techuk.org/insights/news/item/272-data-centre-programme-overview

Or visit our website https://www.techuk.org/focus/programmes/data-centres

  • Emma Fryer

    Emma Fryer

    ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR | DATA CENTRES
    T 01609 772 137

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