Expedition Reflections: 10 Data Imperatives From the South Pole Energy Challenge

Posted 01/17/2018 by Chris Powell

When I first met Robert Swan and learned about his efforts surrounding the protection of Antarctica and promoting sustainable technology, I knew my life would change because of him. I didn’t know that this encounter would actually take me to the Antarctic – skiing the last 60 miles of the South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) with Robert.

At Commvault, we see how data is at the center of both public and private organizations – and how that data is used to do remarkable things. My time in Antarctica has given me even more insight into how important data is, and why it is critical to protect it.

During my time “on the ice,” I realized not only is data essential for business, it is pretty darn important for survival.

So, as I skied through the frozen tundra, I became acutely aware of 10 data imperatives the SPEC team needed to keep the expedition on track:

  • GPS: You have to know where you are going and if you are headed in the right direction.
  • Temperature: Because you’re in Antarctica, for goodness sake.
  • Wind speed/wind chill: Wind is the biggest factor – even more than temperature.
  • Calories: You burn a tremendous number of calories when you are skiing (and pulling a sled). Breakfast, dinner, snacks (usually seven per day) and drinks for a one-day total of 6,000 calories. The team’s special snack, Barney Bars (created for Barney Swan as he is lactose intolerant), have a walloping 1,000 calories each.
  • Distance traveled: The team must maintain a certain pace each day. We are fighting the onset of winter and losing daylight quickly. There is no room for “easy” days.
  • Speed: See No. 5.
  • Tent parts: With unbelievable winds whipping around you, it’s easy to lose things and it’s a bad situation if you can’t set up your tent. I find my self double or triple counting my tent stakes to make sure none have blown away!
  • Battery power: It’s essential to have devices charged up. My satellite phone is the only method of communication I have. Since the SPEC is using only renewable energy, making sure the solar chargers are in good working order is critical.
  • Fuel: Our bio-fuels provide the energy we need to melt the ice on our journey. No melted ice means no water. No water means, well, you know.
  • Photos: Every photo taken during this expedition is being used to raise awareness of what the SPEC expedition is trying to accomplish. It is to prove that renewable energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuel consumption, and that the pristine wilderness known as Antarctica must be preserved and protected for generations to come.

The importance of data is without question. The protection of data is imperative. Why? Because not only do companies use data for insight and research to create remarkable things, people – like Robert and Barney Swan – use data to protect remarkable places like the Antarctic. They do remarkable things to drive awareness of this amazing continent, educate people about alternative energy resources that can reduce our reliability on fossil fuels.

And, equally important, it engages our children to learn about the reality of climate change.

It has been my honor to walk with this remarkable team and I am so proud to be a part of Commvault. By serving as 2041’s official Data Partner, Commvault took our business belief to a new level. By protecting and managing 2041’s data, we know this information will not only make a difference today, but for future generations to come.

The journey may be over, but the challenge continues.

Follow Robert Swan (@robertswan2041) and me (@justpowell) on Twitter, using the hashtags: #SouthPole and #EverydayRemarkable.

As a member of Commvault’s executive leadership team, Chris Powell brings more than two decades of business acumen and management experience to Commvault as Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer.