Would You Rather: Earth Data Edition – with Gayan Peiris
Data is an imperative part of helping us meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It will not only tell us if we’re on track to meeting these goals, but it also informs policies and solutions that will ensure we meet them. In celebration of Earth Day 2018, we sat down with Gayan Peiris, digital strategist at the UN SDG Action Campaign, to find out what kind of Earth data he prefers.
Gayan is an Enterprise Social Strategist with over 15 years of Information Technology and Knowledge Management leadership experience. He is recognized as a Technology Evangelist in designing and implementing Enterprise Knowledge Management, Citizens Engagement and Social Collaboration platforms. Since 2015, Gayan leads the digital strategy of the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, the UN special initiative put in place to foster, support and administer the global SDG Action network in building awareness about the 2030 Agenda, empowering and inspiring people across the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
WOULD YOU RATHER BE STUCK IN A DRY DESERT OR A FROZEN TUNDRA?
GAYAN: (laughs) I hate the frozen tundra so I’d have to say a dry desert. Well, I come from a tropical country, Sri Lanka, so I’m sort of used to the dry, hot weather and that doesn’t bother me. But not frozen. (laugh) That I couldn’t do.
WOULD YOU RATHER PLANT A FOREST OR REGROW A CORAL REEF?
GAYAN: I would regrow an entire coral reef. I am a big fan of coral. (laughs) Again, this is biased to the country I come from which is an island. So, we are surrounded by the coral reefs and I know the devestation that is happening with them.
WOULD YOU RATHER USE WIND, SOLAR OR HYDROPOWER?
GAYAN: I would go for hydro power, because again, where I come from water was such an important resource. And if you have the resources to generate hydro-power, I would definitely use them.
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A 1000-MILE DEEP CORE SAMPLE OR 1000 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC DATA?
GAYAN: Ah, that’s a tough question. I would have the 1000 years of atmospheric data, just for the sake of lost opportunity. Because 1000 mile core sample is something we can look forward to, a challenge we might one day meet in the future. But 1000 years of atmospheric data is just something we cannot have, so I would go for that.
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE ONE MILLION DATA POINTS FROM A SINGLE, WELL-PLACED SENSOR OR ONE DATA POINT FROM ONE MILLION RANDOMLY-PLACED SENSORS?
GAYAN: Related to my line of work, the variety of sampling matters. So, I would go for one million randomly placed sensors. Because in order to provide unbiased findings and a fuller picture, sampling has to be varied.
WOULD YOU RATHER BE INSIDE LOOKING OUT OR OUTSIDE LOOKING IN?
GAYAN: I would rather be out looking in, because I like to be outside!
WOULD YOU RATHER SWITCH 100 HOMES OR 100 VEHICLES TO CLEAN ENERGY?
GAYAN: I would switch 100 vehicles to renewable energy because looking at the future, there will be less permentant homes and more people moving. So I would rather go for powering that mobility with clean energy sources.
Earth Day Words of Wisdom from Gayan
“If you’re trying to communicate about the SDGs, or convince someone to change their behavior to help us meet them, it’s important to remember that nice visualisations don’t trigger actions. A narrative with the right data and a compelling story does.”