The GODAN Discussion Paper is (almost) ready to go public!


It has been more than one month since I started working as an external consultant/researcher for the GODAN White Paper, after my tender for the corresponding GODAN/Open Data Institute call was accepted – this work is now (almost?) over. Since then, there has been a lot of work (and I mean a lot!) in the context of this report:

  • identified more than 30 use cases making use of open agri-food and nutrition data (less than half of them made it in the final version of the paper – I admit that some of them were weaker than the others),
  • drafted additional parts of the paper,
  • collected more than 40 related references (including publications, articles, blog posts, reports, presentations etc.),
  • interviewed several people looking for substantial feedback in terms of insights and quotes for the potential and current issues of open agricultural data,
  • compiled lists of open agri-food datasets, data sources and other types of resources (like repository software, data management software and other tools),
  • collected quotes and other bits from the preliminary GODAN survey results

This was a time-consuming analysis that was reported in about 35 pages, including text, lists and tables (also some images and screenshots at some point). Use cases were elaborated, revised & re-written, additional drafting of text was required in some instances, details were needed for vague use cases, formatting of text and so on.

GODAN_logo_newWhat I really appreciated throughout this process was the fact that I had the opportunity to get close to some really important people working with open data, such as (in random order) Dr. Daniel Jimenez from CIAT (the leader of the winning team of the United Nation’s 2014 Big Data Climate Challenge), Dr. Glenn Hyman & Andrew Farrow from AgTrials, Gerber Roerink from (the last three through the precious introduction and help from SemaGrow partner Dr. Sander Janssen), Graham Mullier (Head Data Sciences, R&D IS at Syngenta), Christopher Brewster (an old friend from Aston University) as well as Dr. Shaun Hobbs, the Director of CABI’s Plantwise Knowledge Bank (I hope I am not forgetting anyone here!). All of them have made a significant impact in their fields so I felt honored to have the opportunity to get in touch with them.

ODI_logoI also felt really glad to have the opportunity to work with the ODI team on the development of this report; Liz Carolan had the overview of the work and was the person connecting the team working on the report with both the GODAN Secretariat (CABI) and the ODI Execs, Fiona Smith was my (remote) project manager, ensuring that my contributions would always be according to the (tight) schedule and acting as my contact with the rest of team (and the GODAN partners several cases); on top of that, ensuring that all bits and pieces would nicely fit in the report, Anna Scott did her magic with copy editing – transforming typical text into high-quality, catchy and easy to read one, Ellen Broad contributing her open data policy parts and experience and there were even more involved! As you understand, this was a great collaborative work, which also included precious input from Tim Davies, and help from Ben Schaap and Ana Brandusescu (GODAN Secretariat). Big thanks to everyone for their contributions and help!

The White Paper (which has now been renamed to Discussion Paper) was open for comments among the GODAN partners (sorry, not publicly available yet!) and has already gone into printing; it will be publicly announced and presented today during the Open Data Conference 2015, in Ottawa, Canada – and we are referring to the specific session on Open Data + Agriculture at 13.30 Ottawa time; you can always check out the Conference Webcast for staying up to date!

If you ask me, it was a great experience that allowed to me to get in touch with some really nice and interesting people and contribute to a report that will have significant impact at a global level; what more could I ask for? 🙂

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