Last Saturday Agro-Know joined forces with ODI Athens on a quest to answer the question “Open Data. Why?”. It was a coalition formed as part of the Open Data Day event, hosted at the beautiful building of innovathens. Agro-Know was in charge of organizing and facilitating a participatory lab on open agri-food data, titled “Open Data in the agri-food sector”. The lab was divided into two parts, namely the first one which included speeches on the role of data on agriculture and food by prominent figures of the academic, public and private sector, and the second part during which an interactive round table for the optimal utilization of open data in the agri-food sector was organized.
— ODI Athens (@ODIAthens) February 28, 2015
The lab was launched by our Chief Operations Officer, Giannis Stoitsis, with an opening speech about the “Challenges and Opportunities of Open Data on the agri-food Sector”. To depict how a SME can take advantage of the open data to build a product, Giannis Stoitsis presented the new product of Agro-Know namely Agro-Know Stem, which aims to provide solutions to people involved in research projects and would like to enhance the dissemination of their research outcomes by applying an Open Access policy or they even have the obligation to do so (e.g. in the context of Horizon 2020 proposals & projects or other Open Access mandates)
During his speech, Giannis highlighted the main problems that one has to encounter when dealing with open data on the agri-food sector. In correlation with the characteristics of data, it is difficult to find trustworthy data of high quality which are structured and organized properly.
This fact becomes a great obstacle regarding the organization, management and use of open data. In terms of the process of opening the data, it is hard to open already existing data since one has to comply with the demanding data and metadata standards, and confront complex licensing schemas without having the proper skills or expertise. Nevertheless, problems always demand solutions and thus, as Giannis noted, it is a first class opportunity for people and companies to assist organizations with the opening of their data, and create platforms-applications where these data can be used for the development of the agri-food sector.
Representing the Greek agricultural academia, Dr. Spyros Fountas, Associate Professor at the Agricultural University of Athens, gave a speech which addressed the issue of whether open data can improve the management of a farm. Professor Fountas introduced to the agri-food lab the concept of precision agriculture and explained the importance of data in its development. As he explained, it is through technologies like soil moisture with wireless sensors or thermal cameras that we take measurements and create data which will assist one to estimate the crop production and therefore improve the management of the farm.
Dr. Konstantinos Iliopoulos from the Hellenic Agricultural Organization Demeter talked about the collection and management of socio-economic data in the agri-food sector. The realization that some of the already existing data were not trustworthy became a motivation force for Dr. Iliopoulos and the Agricultural Economics and Policy Research Institute to initiate a hardworking process of accumulating and evaluating socio-economic data which concern the agri-food sector. The institute is using these kind of data to perform researches which will shape the agricultural policy. Therefore, as he stressed it is of high importance for the data to be valid and open because this way more transparency will be added which will help in a better consultancy for policy making.
Pavlos Georgiadis, co-founder of We Deliver Taste, talked about the importance of open data in what we produce and eat. As he suggested, open data can provide the necessary information in order to create short and transparent supply chains and promote healthy and sustainable diets. His company plays a major role on connecting the producers with the consumers by making the supply chain steps transparent through the tracking of products “from the farm to our fork”.
After these inspiring speeches Agro-Know invited the audience to participate in an interactive round table for the optimal utilization of open data in the agri-food sector. People were asked to talk about what kind of data are they dealing with, what kind of users are these data referring to, what kind of problems-challenges are they encountering and finally what kind of solutions would they envision. The audience responded with enthusiasm and after a vivid talk the results were collected and displayed into two boards.
The results of the round table along with the insights given by the speakers were summarized and presented at the central hall of innovathens giving this way a recapitulation and a closure to this beautifully organized event.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank ODI Athens & ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ (GFOSS) for the excellent organization of the event, Innovathens for the lovely hosting in their beautiful and inspiring premises, the FREME H2020 project for the sponsorship of the event, all other co-organizers of the event for joining forces & covering various aspects of open data but mostly to those who participated and made this event something much more than a typical set of sessions; we hope that we’ll see you again soon and move things forward with Open Data in Greece!