The Big Data Europe Consortium, with its partners for societal challenge “food and agriculture” FAO and AgroKnow and with support from the Global Open Data in Agriculture & Nutrition (GODAN) initiative and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), organized a second workshop on big data for food and agriculture on 30 September in Brussels at the CLORA premises.
The one-day workshop followed the DG AGRI “Digitising the Agri-food Sector” meeting that took place on September 28th-29th in Brussels.
We invited a selected group of EC representatives that are working on agendas or initiatives of relevance (from DG AGRI, DG CONNECT, DG RTD as well as the EU Publications Office) to meet a number of key members of the broader research and industry community working on data for food and agriculture to share recent developments.
The agenda was organized around three main sessions:
1) Towards a Data Ecosystem, where participants from DG CONNECT, DG AGRI, GODAN, Syngenta and FAO presented their latest endeavors to involve their respective stakeholders in envisioning what a data ecosystem for food and agriculture should look like and what has to be done to get there.
Kimmo Rossi (DG CONNECT) and Iman Boot (DG AGRI) presented the policy context and the funding agendas of their respective Directorates, including a report of the results of the recent DG AGRI workshop. Martin Parr and Andre Jellema (GODAN) presented some key activities of the GODAN initiative both in advocacy and convening the stakeholders and in designing an “open data charter” for our sector for the ODC initiative of the G20. Graham Mullier (Syngenta UK) presented the results of Syngenta’s collaboration with GODAN partners on what components should make up a data ecosystem for our sector and Johannes Keizer (FAO) presented the “Chania declaration”, the latest commitment to a common agenda signed by several organizations in May 2016.
2) Scientific communities & open research data, where participants from the research community presented their current activities under different funding schemes (EC and beyond).
Wim Haentjens (DG RTD) and Odile Hologne (INRA) presented two projects on research data funded by the EC: the already advanced European Open Science Cloud and the now-starting eROSA project (“Towards an e-infrastructure roadmap for open science in agriculture”). Medha Devare (CGIAR) and Sander Janssen (Alterra, WUR) presented publicly funded activities for the improvement of global and institutional opening up of data: the efforts and aspirations of the CGIAR in opening up their data (also learning from other domains) and the GODAN Action project, funded by the Department for International Development of the UK government (DfID). Nikos Manouselis (AgroKnow) then gave his perspective on how European initiatives can guide / lead the changes in the food and agriculture data industry, through already existing mechanisms, like the alignment between public and private sectors, the approach of having different infrastructures communicate, the attention given to business models and SMEs. EC projects and GODAN can also help coordination in order to avoid duplication.
3) Tools & services, where participants presented relevant global and regional infrastructural components for data management and data sharing.
Agnieszka Zajac and Marc Kuster (EU Publications Office) presented respectively the EU Open Data Portal, illustrating the technologies implemented to make EU datasets open, and the CELLAR semantic repository to make legal documents from the EC semantically accessible. Willem Van Gemert (EU Publications Office) and Johannes Keizer (FAO) presented two platforms for vocabularies: the vocabulary management tool VocBench (used for both AGROVOC and Eurovoc) and the vocabulary framework Global Agricultural Concept Scheme (GACS), a common environment for hosting, linking, referencing and publishing vocabularies for food and agriculture.
Presentations were followed by Q&A sessions and discussions, which indicated some clear priorities and key aspects that all participants from the various communities found essential, like:
- Convening mechanisms for making these consultations systematic (and seeing if the EC can also build the case for further systematic investment); also to help align the technology investments (avoiding duplication)
- New incentives and business models for data sharing (think of automated mechanisms besides “stick and carrot” incentives)
- Work still needed on interoperability and standards, especially on demonstrating impact and collecting use cases and stories to more clearly understand what is needed / missing; think of evolution of standards into Standards-as-a-Service.
- Need for shared data services (big data platforms, e.g. big-data empowered learning mechanisms) and agreed reference datasets (as standards and for learning mechanisms)
The final report of this workshop is available here: Second BDE workshop for SC2 food and agriculture – final report.
All presentations are available on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/tag/BDESC2W2.
All photos are available on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/133018547@N06/albums/72157675012276145.