Lasers, Mantraps And Alligators: Visualising Physical Security In Data Centre Tour Videos

Samuel Kininmonth – RMIT University

Platform: Journal of Media and Communication

Volume 9.1, Visuality: Truth and Politics (2022): pp. 9 – 23

This article examines how video tours of data centres visually foreground physical security infrastructure. Despite the importance of cloud computing to many people’s lives, data centres, a key piece of cloud computing infrastructure, are often hidden from public view — but not always. Many companies promote their services by making tour videos of their data centres. An emerging body of research in media and communication studies has examined how promotional material visualises data centres, but there is little research on how promotional videos represent physical security infrastructure. This paper consists of a qualitative content analysis of 66 data centre tour videos from data centres located around the world. It finds that data centre video tours often spend significant time visualising security features used to protect data centres from unauthorised physical access. The videos often feature various security measures, including 24-hour guards, boom gates, fences, radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards, guard stations, biometric scanners, man traps and underfloor lasers. I argue that the video tours are marketing materials that act as security theatre and foreground physical security features to perform a security discourse of control over territory, people and data. The videos also unexpectedly foreground human labour within the security apparatus. They demonstrate that security infrastructure governs the workers that maintain it.

Data Centres, Security, Video Tours, Infrastructures

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