On Friday October 7th we held a breakout session at the 4th International Open Data Conference in Madrid. We asked open data experts what it takes to get from identifying the open data need to realizing impact.
Focusing on land use and crop production data the first issue that emerged was the challenge of quality data collection, a prerequisite for both use and reuse. For example, it was indicated that ground staff are often underpaid to do the data collection in the field, hence not motivated to collect data outside of urban centres. The varying quality of data between countries also make is it difficult for UN organisations to build accurate and consistent global data sets or to make comparisons between countries. Various solutions to improve data collection for agriculture were given.
The usage of smart digital storage devices.
The harmonisation of data collection policies among international institutions, governments and NGOs, perhaps by promoting existing standards and vocabularies, to avoid duplicating efforts.
The usage of advanced technologies like remote sensing or drones to cover data collection gaps. One participant highlighted the importance of lower cost technological solutions, such as drones, to combat the expenses of ground truthing remotely sensed data.
Partnerships could be formed with NGOs and the private sector sharing data to fill the data collection gaps.
To further drill down to the much desired impact we started to discuss possible cases for re-using the data. Focussing on farmers needs it became clear that there was a need to know what other farmers and regions are growing to make informed decisions on decision making on what to plant in order to gain a competitive advantage. Other sources of information needed to make informed crop selection decisions were were information on inputs such as seeds or agrochemicals, but also climate change mitigation.
Attendees discuss elements of the Agriculture Open Data Package
Overall, there was clear interest in the agricultural open data package. For instance, one participant from Mexico noted that agrarian registry was much more popular from the dataportal of mexico for downloading than the import and export price data and he had a keen interest in stimulating the usage of the data already in the portal. Also other participants were curious on how they could use the agricultural open data package to motivate their governments to publish open data for the benefit of the agricultural sector–in order to benefit intermediaries such as start-ups providing tech solutions to small holder farmers.
This post originally appeared on the GODAN website.