ECMWF’s new data centre: First step in new international investment in Italy

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ECMWF’s Council of Member States met on 28 February and 1 March 2017 in an extraordinary session to consider proposals to host ECMWF’s data centre.
This meeting took place at the end of an extensive process of evaluation by a panel of international experts and representatives of the Centre’s Member States, who reviewed bids on criteria ranging from financial and technical aspects and environmental impact to capability to deliver.
Following the recommendation of its Evaluation Panel that the Italian proposal is considered the best from the point of view of the requirements and the overall interests of ECMWF, Council mandated Director-General Florence Rabier to prepare a high-level agreement with the Italian Government, for approval by Council at its next session.
The Italian proposal comes from the Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy and would see the future ECMWF data centre located in the ‘Tecnopolo di Bologna’.
ECMWF’s Director-General Florence Rabier stated: “It has been clear for a while now that the current data centre facility does not offer the required flexibility for future growth and changes in high-performance computing (HPC) technology. As laid out in our 2025 Strategy launched last September, we believe that continuing to improve weather predictions relies heavily on our ability to support our science with proportionate computing power. Intermediary goals to 2020 already require that the Centre’s next supercomputers should provide a tenfold increase in our computational capacity. The three key components that will make up this increase are technology developments, scalability efficiency gains and additional processors. This latter point would require a significant expansion of our current data centre infrastructure, which unfortunately cannot be achieved in our current location. It is this constraint that triggered the process to identify a new site. I was impressed by the quality of all the proposals we have received, and I now look forward to starting discussions with the Italian Government.”
The next few months will allow both sides to discuss the legal, financial and technical elements of the proposal in greater detail, ahead of the next session of Council.
ECMWF wants to acknowledge the support and commitment of its Member States over the process so far, and especially wishes to thank all the bidding teams for the significant efforts put into their proposals.


Italy has a long tradition in the field of meteorology and today meets all the requirements in order to become the location of the future European weather centre. This is the message of the video "Bologna for ECMWF", produced by Cineca with the Emilia-Romagna Region, Arpae, Aster and FBM to support the candidature of Bologna as the headquarters of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

The story starts from the mid-nineteenth century, when Father Secchi organized a weather forecast service designed as a network between cities, to become a part of a larger network created at the European level. The video, therefore, starts with the studies and forecasts performed with ancient instruments, and continues with a reference to the current simulations, focusing in particular on the Emilia-Romagna region, highlighting both its technical and scientific resources as well as the attractiveness of the territory.

Consisting of  shots, archive images, renderings, animations and simulations made on a supercomputer, the movie is a presentation of Italian scientific excellence: a research ecosystem based in Italy, with Emilia-Romagna and Bologna leading the way. A location with a network of expertise and infrastructures able to nurture the establishment of a large European weather centre, where the history of science becomes a future reality. 

There is a long scientific and university tradition, a research ecosystem with its roots in the territory, but with an international outlook.  Promoting care for the environment and sustainability; highly qualified professional researchers, with a network of skills in renowned supercomputing and research centers for energy and environment, and a good quality of life; all these features  make Bologna the ideal candidate to become the headquarters of the European Weather Centre.

Bologna, the right place.