About the Authors: Catherine Woteki serves as Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Nick Sinai serves as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer.
In an exciting opportunity, the G-8 is inviting innovators to apply to present ideas that demonstrate how open data can be unleashed to increase food security at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture on April 29-30, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Open data is being used by innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to accelerate development, whether it be tracking election transparency in Kenya or providing essential information to rural farmers in Uganda. The G-8 conference will convene policy makers, thought leaders, food security stakeholders, and data experts to discuss the role of public, agriculturally-relevant data in increasing food security and to build a strategy to spur innovation by making agriculture data more accessible. As part of the conference, selected applicants will be invited to showcase innovative uses of open data for food security in either a Lightning Presentation (a 3-5 minute, image-rich presentation on the first day of the conference) or in the Exhibit Hall (an image-rich exhibit on display throughout the two-day conference).
Presentations should inspire others to share their data or imagine how open data could be used to increase food security. Presentations may include existing, new, or proposed applications of open data to improve food security and should meet one or more of the following criteria:
(1) Demonstrate the impact of open data on food security;
(2) Demonstrate the impact of access to agriculturally-relevant data on developed and/or developing countries; and/or
(3) Demonstrate the impact of bringing multiple sources of agriculturally-relevant public and/or private open data together.
At last year's G-8 Summit in Washington D.C., leaders committed to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition -- including an agreement to "[s]hare relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture, to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers, taking into account existing agricultural data systems."
The upcoming G-8 Summit is consistent with the many successful White House Open Data Initiative events held recently to highlight and celebrate innovations fueled by open, accessible data. For example, in the fall of 2012, the White House hosted a number of "Datapaloozas" and "Data Jams" focused on safety, energy, education, and global development that convened hundreds of government, non-profit, and private sector innovators to share ideas and applications that rely on open government data to improve lives. The events featured such innovations as a mobile application that connects people in cardiac distress with nearby CPR-certified citizens; a service that monitors consumer electric bills and sends helpful reminder "nudges" and has resulted in over $225 million in cost savings; and an interactive platform that uses data to develop a personalized learning experience for students.