GODAN at IODC 2015

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GODAN had a significant presence at the recent 3rd International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Ottawa (May 28-29), when a real buzz was generated around discussion of current developments in open data in the agriculture and nutrition sectors. The event promoted lively Twitter activity and we were delighted at the interest generated in using open data in the Agriculture and Nutrition sectors.

At the opening of the conference keynote speaker US Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil addressed the importance of collaboration between the Agriculture and Nutrition sectors and open data initiatives. Open data is a powerful tool that can be used, for example, to target satellite data to meet the needs of precision agriculture. However, he recognised existing challenges inherent in combining such datasets to find solutions to complex problems.

Later that day partners gave five excellent short presentations on impact case studies illustrating how open data is already making a difference in solving real-world problems that farmers and consumers face. The ‘Data + Agriculture’ impact session, chaired by Canada’s Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture Gilles Saindon, started with Matthew McNaughton presenting the work of SlashRoots in the Caribbean. This was followed by a presentation from Marie-Cécile Huet, OpenDataSoft, who introduced Agri-API, a data platform for agriculture projects. Stephen Costello Lowe presented on how to enable an open data transformation in the USDA. Enrique Zapata B. Pérez from the Mexican Government then  provided an inspiring insight to data-driven governance in Mexico. Liz Carolan (ODI) concluded the speaker session with an examination of the use cases showcased in the GODAN/ODI discussion paper ‘How can we improve agriculture, food and nutrition with open data?’. Both GODAN and the ODI are seeking further ideas for solution-focused open data initiatives at bit.ly/godan-ideas.

iodc web photo 1Panelists Stanley Wood (Gates Foundation), Nkechi Okwuone (Government of Nigeria), Steven Adler (IBM), Federico Sancho (IICA), Sander Janssen (WUR), and Matthew McNaughton (SlashRoots) address Dr Woteki’s (USDA) questions in the ‘Data + Agriculture’ impact session. Photo: GODAN Secretariat

iodc picture 2Dr Woteki (USDA) passes the mic to Matthew McNaughton (SlashRoots) to answer a question from the audience during the panel session. Photo: GODAN Secretariat

A panel session, chaired by USDA Chief Scientist Dr Woteki, followed, which addressed some of the key questions facing the sector. A webcast of the speaker session and panel discussion is available here.

iodc web pic 3Dr Woteki (USDA) discusses agriculture, nutrition, and global open data policies in the ‘Data Revolution: Will the Revolution Be Open?’ session. Photo: GODAN Secretariat

The next morning, Dr Woteki addressed recent developments and emerging opportunities related to the UN’s Data Revolution Post-2015 Development Agenda. Dr Woteki reported that public investment in agricultural research has been declining globally, except in India, China, and Brazil. Open data policies could boost agricultural research worldwide and enhance food production to fight malnutrition, as outlined in recent studies by GODAN partners. GODAN partners also made a very valuable contribution to the ‘Public-interest innovation with open data’ action-track session on May 29.

Since the conclusion of the event a number of excellent blog posts have been published exploring both opportunities and challenges in the sector. Laura Husak’s blog post outlines the the importance of responsible, efficient, and transparent open data processes to benefit smallholder farmers. Flavie Halais (Devex) wrote an excellent article on the seven challenges that agriculture must address to unleash its data revolution.

*All ‘Data + Agriculture’ session presentations are available here, the webcast is here. Notes from the IODC Social Media Rapporteurs on the ‘Data + Agriculture’ session are available here, and action-track session notes are here. Details of our Pre-meet draft notes can be found here. The full IODC conference report is available here.

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