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After Facebook, Luleå sets sights on digital age

The opening of a massive data centre by US social networking giant Facebook, officials hope will be just the start of a march into the digital age for the town of Luleå, perched in the Arctic far north of Sweden.

“The digital industry will be an important addition to our town,” Mayor Karl Petersen told AFP.

With a population of 74,000, Luleå has long been home to Sweden’s thriving steel industry, with one of the world’s leading producers, SSAB, based there. It is also a key hub for the mining and pulp and paper sectors.

In October, Facebook announced it had chosen the Swedish town for its first European data centre, and third globally, in large part because of its “suitable climate for environmental cooling (and) clean power resources.”

The icy region, located on the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, was especially attractive due to its climate, “since cooling (computer) servers is a major issue for data centres,” Facebook said.

The company is expected to pump between three and five billion kronor (€326-543 million, $440-734 million) into the data centre, creating 300 new construction jobs for the next few years and then 50 to 60 permanent jobs, Petersen said.

“This is the biggest single investment in Luleå since the steel plant was built in 1940,” he added.

He hopes the data centre will put Luleå on the map, attracting other businesses to the region dubbed the “Node Pole.”

“Talks are already underway” with a few companies, he said.

“Facebook is one of the world’s biggest brand names … Awareness about the town of Luleå will increase and that means a lot.

“We have a very modern steel industry, we’re a very industrial town and we have the Luleå University of Technology. So we have a lot of competence and research here,” Petersen said.

In Sweden’s sparsely-populated far north, “we’re a big town with a lot to offer and a varied labour market … Our local economy is doing well, we have a strong birth rate and new people moving here all the time,” Petersen said.

One of the main reasons Facebook selected Luleå was that the data centre could run primarily on renewable hydropower.

The Luleå river that runs through the town supplies Sweden with nine percent

of its electricity and has proved a stable energy source for the town’s industries for decades.

The data centre will consist of three server buildings each covering an area of around 28,000 square metres (300,000 square feet).

The first building is already under construction and is expected to open for business in mid-2013.

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VIRAL

Family’s Christmas video goes viral in Sweden

A video made by a Swedish family as a silly Christmas greeting for their friends has gone wildly viral on Facebook, receiving more than half a million views in just four days, not bad for a country of just nine million.

Family's Christmas video goes viral in Sweden
Björn Hansson is 'quite attention-seeking', according to his daughter My. Photo: Screen Grab

The video shows Björn Hansson, from Ljusdal, a small town in central Sweden,  prancing around the frozen Swedish countryside in a bunny suit pursued by his dog Yksi. 

 

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GOD JUL 2015

Dags för årets julhälsning från min far Björn Hansson! Speciellt tillägnad Maria Wållner, Ewa Almin Olsén, Malin Blomqvist och Sara Carlsson. Ladies, både nätstrumpor och mycket hud! Enyoy.

Posted by My Hansson on Wednesday, 23 December 2015

 
 
It was shot by Björn Hansson's daughter My. His wife Kickan Hansson and her friend Theresa Olsson acted as dog handlers.
 
“It's so funny to think that so many people have seen my Dad in a bunny outfit, and my Dad thinks it's very funny too,” My Hansson told The Local. “He is quite attention-seeking so he likes it. He's very hard to be around because he's very star struck by himself.” 
 
“It's completely idiotic, but great fun,” Björn Hansson from Ljusdal said in a separate interview with the Helahälsingland newspaper. 
 
The video was shot a few days before Christmas and shared on Facebook the day before Christmas Eve. 
 
My Hansson told The Local that she had expected the video to be shared 30 or 40 times among friends, as happened with the silly Christmas photos they have taken in previous years. 
 
The idea came from their previous year's Christmas photo, when she decided to suspend her father, dressed in a bunny costume, by his feet from a crane, to mimic the traditional way to treat newly shot hares. 
 
“In Sweden we have a hunting tradition where you hunt hares with a dog like our dog, and when you shoot a hare you hang it upside down with a tree branch in its stomach,” My Hansson explained.
 
“Last year we hung him up by his legs, so this year we thought we would do a movie showing how we shot him.” 
 
Both My Hansson and her father are keen hunters, with the daughter, who is an artist, working as an illustrator for a hunting magazine. 
 
“I knew that hunters would find it funny,” she said. “But I didn't know the rest of Sweden would find it as funny as they have.”
 
“I think it's unusual to see an old man, jumping around in the middle of the forest freezing dressed as a rabbit. I don't think people have seen it before.”