Harnessing open data to help the agri-food sector
Researchers are developing collaborative apps that could improve farming practices and the efficiency of food supply chains. They are part of an EU-funded project aimed at harnessing the power of open data and ICT to promote better use and management of agricultural land, boosting innovation in the process.
© kuarmungadd #202055723, source: fotolia.com 2018
The CAPSELLA projects work chimes with the United Nations second Sustainable Development Goal, which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. To that end, the project promotes a better collective understanding of agro-biodiversity and its benefits, as well as the need to produce good-quality food as part of the sustainable food chain process.
The team started by collecting data relating farming, food production and agro-biodiversity, which can be defined as the result of complex interactions between the environment, natural resources and peoples long-term management of land. The information has been integrated into an open data platform that focuses on the needs of the agricultural community and on being FAIR findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
We hope that CAPSELLA can contribute to the development of new, sustainable agricultural production and collaborative consumption patterns, new lifestyles, and innovative product and service creation, as well as information delivery, says project coordinator Yannis Ioannidis of the Athena Research Centre for Innovation in Information Technologies, Greece.
Through our work, we also seek measurable improvements in cooperation between farmers, citizens, researchers, public authorities, private companies, non-profit, non-governmental and other civil society organisations.
In turn, the platforms data, processing power and services have been harnessed to help create seven CAPSELLA pilot schemes, which focus on building innovative ICT applications in diverse but related areas.
The project team took a seed to fork approach when selecting the pilots.
For example, two pilots focus on the health of soil: one helps farmers to monitor their soil quality and health, combining their knowledge with an ICT application; the second supports the transition from chemicals-based farming to a more ecological one with reduced carbon dioxide emissions, through the efficient use of compost. Another aims to develop an ICT tool that can be used in any EU country to easily enter data and track seed varieties.
Four of the seven pilots focus on aspects of the food chain in order to improve the sustainability of consumption and provide people with better nutrition. One of these pilots is designed and implemented in collaboration with the Italian cities of Asti and Milan. It aims at bringing transparency to the whole procurement process for meals served in public schools, offering services to parents and helping the city take informed decisions.
After the pilot phase, the CAPSELLA team will carefully select licences for the continued development of the projects applications. This will ensure their largest possible re-use and reproducability.
We are confident that the communities involved in the demonstrator phase will embrace the developed applications and show an interest in forthcoming, enhanced versions of each pilot app even after the project is completed, says Eleni Toli from the project coordination team.
All the projects activities data collection, platform building and app development are now being brought together in the CAPSELLA Acceleration Programme. The aim here is to promote innovation in Europes agricultural food systems while supporting the development of other applications that use data about food chains and farming.
The two teams that won the Innovation Contest and the Business Plan competition are already working with the CAPSELLA team to successfully enter the next phase, to create start-ups which boost innovation in the agri-food sector.
The CAPSELLA project is part of the CAPS European research initiative which is supporting Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation pioneering collaborative models based on hyperconnectivity to face sustainability challenges in environmental, economic and societal areas.