Sunday, March 5, 2017

Working out of office: My "on-the-go" setup (2016 version)

(Why 2016 version? Just because some new parts have not been extensively tested in 2017 - read below for more info!)

I usually have the opportunity (and I say so, because I consider it to be a great opportunity) to work away from office. Don't get me wrong; I like my working environment - I still love changing setups and have found that new working environments improve my productivity.

My current office setup consists of a desktop Windows 10-powered PC (not the fastest around but does the work) with two screens connected (a habit that I got a couple of years ago, when I was using a 17-inch laptop at work with a screen attached), a Logitech mouse and a Microsoft keyboard, along with piles of printed documents and hand-written notes, newspapers focused in agriculture (stored in a bin behind my desk), a weird smartphone stand and pens/pencils/post-it notes. I also have a diary where I keep my daily notes (To-Do lists, notes taken during meetings - I avoid using notebook sheets for that - etc.).

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My work (especially in the past) included several days/weeks of work outside the office - including trips abroad for project meetings, Conferences and Workshops, meetings with customers and collaborators, field visits, training opportunities etc. Therefore, I had to adapt to a digital nomad approach, where I could have access to all my work (e.g. emails, documents and notes) all the time, even when I was away from office. I therefore tried and tested (under real circumstances) different tools, setups and approaches, in order to ensure that being out of office would not affect my productivity. Some of the key components are the following:

1. Backpack: I cannot imagine a trip abroad without a backpack - and I mean a good one! This is where all important stuff goes, including my laptop (or tablet) and charger, mouse, documents related to the trip including passport and maps, boarding passes, things to read or review during the flight/trip, pens/pencils/markers/notepads, my diary, smartphone and wallet etc. For such kind of trips you need an elegant but still durable backpack (water-resistance is also an essential feature). I currently use a Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Collection Backpack, which is suitable for laptops up to 17,3' and has plenty of pockets for all stuff I need to have with me.

2. Laptop: One of the most essential companions during a trip. I am not processing video when I am on the go, so I do not need the most powerful laptop available. I have used several significantly different laptops, each one having advantages and drawbacks: my 17-inch Toshiba Satellite provided ample working space but was bulky, heavy and short on battery power, my 11,6-inch Acer netbook was ultra portable but lagging to catch up with basic tasks even with Linux installed, my 15,6-inch basic Acer Aspire laptop providing a balance between portability and performance, with surprising good battery - for a €300 laptop!).

I recently started traveling with my 10,1-inch Windows Tablet (Z3735F @ 1,33GHz, 2 GB RAM and 32GB storage), accompanied by a bluetooth keyboard (Logitech K480), a travel mouse and an external hard disk (where most - if not all - of my work is synced). By using a tablet with a detachable keyboard I have the flexibility to use tablet only (lighter) when reading e.g. at the airport or during a flight and easily convert it to a mini-laptop during the meeting or at the hotel room. Performance of the tablet is adequate for typical usage (e.g. editing slides and documents, web browsing and social media - even for watching movies if there is time for that!) and tiny screen is usually not an issue: sometimes I even have the option to plug it to larger screen (if available) or the hotel room's TV (not as frequently as I would like, I have to admit). Battery life time is usually adequate for a half-day meeting but power sockets are usually available.

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3. Documents (digital): A connection to the internet is not always available (e.g. in airports, hotel rooms and even meeting places), but still I need to have a copy of my work as a reference at all times. My work exists in Dropbox, so I only have to copy my Dropbox folder to an external hard disk before the trip. All changes of documents are then synced with my Dropbox on the cloud - it is a great convenience! On top of that, all photos taken with my Windows Phone (ranging from event photos to scans of receipts) are available on OneDrive and synced with my laptops.

4. Software: I like to travel light (not that I manage to do so in all occasions), so I tend to reduce the amount of printed material I carry with my while travelling. To do so, I have to replace traditional tools of the trade with digital ones. For example, I keep in Google Calendar all important dates (deadlines & milestones for project tasks, dates for events like Conferences etc.). I use Trello for organizing my work/tasks and efficiently allocate my time to each, Google Docs for keeping notes during meetings, working on large documents and allow collaborative work with colleagues, as well as Evernote for check lists and for draft blog posts (I like the formatting better). These eliminate the need to carry around diaries, notepads and even printed versions of documents.

5. Tools of the trade: It is obvious that it is hard to skip all printed versions of documents; for example, I personally still find it more convenient to go through documents in their printed form, take notes with color pens, highlight parts with color pencils - and the fact that you don't have to care about the status of your reader's (e.g. laptop/tablet) status is a bonus! So I always carry blue/black/red pens with me, a couple of markers for highlighting text, post it notes etc., as well as a number of USB sticks (to share files when internet is not an option), a laser pointer (not only it is a handy tool, usually overlooked, but also makes you look more professional), business cards in an neat aluminum case etc.

This is more or less what I use to keep myself productive while being out of office - and it has been successfully tested in numerous occasions. As a gadget-junkie and a curious mind, I tend to find new tools and ways to improve my setup, testing and integrating them in my workflows. Traveling might be challenging, but only if you are not well-prepared for it! 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Presenting NEUROPUBLIC's smart farming project in the si-Cluster meeting

On February 7th, 2017, a special meeting took place at the premises of the Corallia innovation hubsi-Cluster members were invited to join and make a 5- min presentation of their work (always related to space technologies) to the Minister for Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Dr. Nikos Pappas and the Secretary General Dr. Lefteris Kretsos, among others. The meeting was organized in the context of the recent announcement about the establishment of the Greek National Center for Space Applications, as a part of a series of meetings between the Minister and Greek organizations (both public and private sector) that are activated in the space technologies ecosystem.
The aim of the specific meeting was to inform the Minister about the si-Cluster ecosystem which are surely of relevance to this announcement and focus on applications based on space technologies which are developed and applied by Greek companies and research / higher education institutes (which are members of the si-Cluster). NEUROPUBLIC, as one of the si-Cluster members was one of the companies that had the opportunity to present their work to the officials of the Ministry. The company was represented by its CEO Mr. Giannis Mavroudis and me, and our presentation focused on its low cost smart farming services that the company designs and implements in the context of its smart farming project that takes place in various locations all over Greece.

The presentation referred to the role of various data and technology types, such as remote sensing, in the smart farming services of the company, the low cost of the services for the farmers as well as on the multiple benefits that they reap through the improvement of their yield both quantitative and qualitative, the reduced production cost and the improvement of their competitiveness in the market through the added value assigned to their products. Another important point of our presentation was the expertise of the company, obtained through its long-time collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the technologies of which NEUROPUBLIC adapts and implements in the Greek agricultural sector.

Despite the fact that the time for the presentation of our work was limited, the Minister expressed his interest on our approach and the actual results achieved so far. Since agriculture is one of the key sectors with the potential to support the country's efforts for increased exports, the few agricultural applications of space technologies draw the attention of the special visitors.

All in all, I was really happy to participate in this event and have the opportunity not only to meet the Minister but also be a part of the effort contributing to the space technologies' ecosystem in Greece. Special thanks should go to the organizers of the event, who managed to set everything up in such a short time and cater for the needs of each individual participant of the event. We can only hope that the effort (referring to the presentation of the work of more than 20 Greek organizations) will lead to something substantial, in alignment with the ambitious plan of launching the Greek National Center for Space Applications.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Discussing smart farming in Greece in the KATANA Roadshow Athens

OpenCircle, an equity crowdfunding platform developed by Parnasse S.A. – and a consortium member of the KATANA Horizon 2020 project, organized on February 2nd 2017 a meeting (KATANA Roadshow Athens) at the premises of Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in Athens, Greece. The event aimed at informing Greek potential stakeholders about the possibilities of applying innovative ideas and the funding opportunities offered by the project.

NEUROPUBLIC was invited by the organizers of the event to talk about the status of Smart Farming in Greece, and present its smart farming project which is currently taking places in various locations all over Greece, in collaboration with GAIA EPICHEIREIN. I had the opportunity to represent NEUROPUBLIC in the event so I compiled a set of slides (reusing existing material and adding my own touch in order to make the slides appealing to the specific audience) that tried to cover as many aspects as possible in the time allocated for this presentation.

Our contribution aimed at highlighting the specificities of the Greek agricultural sector that prevent typical smart farming approaches from being successfully applied in Greece as well as at encouraging participants to participate with related innovative ideas in the open call of the KATANA project.

What I found challenging was to collect sufficient information on the status of smart farming in Greece; despite the fact that there are numerous Greek SMEs providing the necessary hardware and services (though not as a package as NEUROPUBLIC does) and also numerous EU-funded projects that focused on applying smart farming approaches in various Greek cases of crops and locations, only scarce information was available. I found a couple of presentations, descriptions of a couple of related projects (but not their outcomes) and one really useful (and recent) report on precision agriculture in Greece (which provided useful information for some of the slides) co-authored by Prof. Fountas from the Agricultural University of Athens. I know that the Smart AKIS H2020 project will work on a marketplace for smart farming so I hope that all related information will be more easily discoverable and retrievable in the near future. :-)

The event was well organized (big thanks to the organizers - Parnasse S.A.), engaged a diverse audience (including academia, entrepreneurs, students etc.) and my presentation raised some interest among the participants, which was expressed in a high number of questions afterwards as well as after the end of the event. I also had the opportunity to make some really interesting connections meeting people working on smart farming from different perspectives.

ΚΑΤΑΝΑ is a project funded through the Horizon 2020 programme and aims to promote innovative and smart business ideas in the agrifood sector. Through a well-defined process which includes innovative tools such as peer to peer evaluation and Reward Crowd Funding, at the final step 10 innovative consortia will be selected and receive €100.000 each, in order to proceed with the implementation of their ideas.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Internet of Things and Agriculture: AIOTI Working Group 06

The Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was initiated by the European Commission in 2015, with the aim to strengthen the dialogue and interaction among Internet of Things (IoT) players in Europe, and to contribute to the creation of a dynamic European IoT ecosystem to speed up the take up of IoT. It involves a high number of organizations from the public and private sector that join forces towards a common goal.

AIOTI is organized in 13 Working Groups that cover different areas of IoT applications; NEUROPUBLIC is a member of AIOTI and one of the contributors to its WG 06: Smart Farming and Food Security. We gladly accepted Gradiant's invitation (the organization leading the specific WG) and so I found myself in Brussels on Sunday afternoon, getting ready to represent NEUROPUBLIC in the meeting which was hosted by the Spanish Office of Science and Technology (or Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Spanish).

I was excited to be on the same table with people from organizations such as Bayer Crop ScienceIBMSiemensCEMA (the voice of the EU agricultural machinery producers), COPA-COGECA (the voice of EU farmers and farmers' cooperatives) and Intracom Telecom, to name a few, and have the opportunity to discuss about the current status of implementation of new technologies and the IoT ecosystem in the agricultural context. I was also glad to meet old friend Christopher Brewster from TNO after quite a long time.
During the meeting, GAIA Epicheirein was mentioned as one good use case of application of new technologies in agriculture; I was happy to provide some insights on how GAIA Epicheirein was established and the work done in the context of NEUROPUBLIC's smart farming project that takes place all over Greece. Our new H2020 project DataBio was also mentioned quite a few times during the meeting, as one of the projects that may help push things forward in the specific context (see e.g. the smart farming pilots that NEUROPUBLIC will be responsible for).

The Smart AKIS H2020 project was also presented during the meeting by Ivo Hostens from CEMA, as a project that could be of interest to the scope of the group; more specifically, the marketplace that the project aims to build could be adapted by the WG.

The next steps of the Working Group were discussed during the meeting and there are still points to be addressed but this first face to face meeting of the Working Group gave a boost into the right direction (and also allowed the participants / members of the WG to get to know each other). I have the feeling that NEUROPUBLIC will be one of the important members of the group, due to its unique combination of technology/infrastructure, access to farmers (through GAIA Epicheirein) and application of its smart farming services under real conditions. :-)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Exploring collaboration opportunities among Mediterranean countries: The WE MED Conference

The WE MED Conference took place in Athens, Greece on December 16th, 2016. It was an event of the ENI CBC Med programme, aiming at bringing together various types of stakeholders interested in joining forces towards addressing common issues in the Mediterranean countries. The programme itself provides both the framework and the funding needed for materializing collaboration among Med countries.

I was informed about the event a month ago; still, the registration was already closed due to high participation. My persistence along with kind responses from the organizing team granted me a place in the waiting list and then I was informed that I would be among the participants. And I was glad I would.

The event was organized in three themed sessions:
  1. Get Inspired: Consisted of successful use cases of collaboration among Mediterranean countries (presenting projects funded by the programme) as well as the views of key stakeholders. I found this session really appealing as it provided the human face of the collaboration; instead of having these typical slides including lists of deliverables of projects, there were real people (like farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs, to name a few) that explained how their lives were positively affected by the aforementioned collaborations.
  2. Learn: It consisted of a number of presentations about the ENI CBC Med programme, covering different aspects. The slides provided the necessary background to participants in order to understand the concept and opportunities that may be available for funding collaborations of innovative groups and ideas. Lots of useful information on the eligibility of countries and thematic areas, restrictions and guidelines.
  3. Connect: A purely networking session, allowing participants with common expectations to get in touch, exchange ideas and find common ground to work on projects that would address common challenges. The main Conference room was split into numerous smaller places with card boards used as whiteboards for brainstorming, matching profiles of participants with needs of organizations and discussing on issues of common interest.

The event provided me with the opportunity to get to know and talk to people from various countries, working on different topics and looking for partners in order to address common challenges. As I was participating on behalf of NEUROPUBLIC, I focused on sharing information about our smart farming services and see how they could meet the needs of potential stakeholders from other Med countries; the possibility of applying our approach in different contexts sounded appealing and I managed to identify at least a couple of cases which we could follow up after the Conference. Apart from that, I was well-informed about the possibilities provided by the programme in turning such collaborations into projects.

From an organizational perspective, I was happy to see that the organizers had already defined a Twitter hashtag (#WEMED) so that all tweets would be grouped and easily retrievable. During the Conference I was tweeting using both my personal Twitter account and the NEUROPUBLIC one, trying to cover different aspects of the event and boost the dissemination of its updates. There was also a Cooperation Wall; a huge whiteboard where participants could stick post-it notes with their ideas and contact details. I surely made use of that functionality as well and found the idea brilliant.

The Conference organizers had also engaged Alex Hughes from Drawnalism, who always does a great work in depicting ongoing discussions in the form of cartoons - a great visualization mean if you ask me! On top of that, everything was well-organized; something that must have been a challenge considering the relatively high number of participants.

If you are interested in learning more about the outcomes of the WE MED Conference, you can go through the summary provided by the programme team - you can also watch some of the Conference's video recordings via the ENI CBC Med Programme YouTube channel.

I can only thank the organizers of the event, not only for the kind invitation but also for hosting a successful meeting, engaging so many different stakeholders and doing their best in assisting them through networking and identifying funding opportunities for their innovative ideas.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

si-Cluster and the ecosystem of space technology in Greece

...and how a company like NEUROPUBLIC can be a core part of it.

It may sound strange to many people (including me some months ago), but there is space technology in Greece. In fact, there are various types of stakeholders, such as private companies and university labs, working on the design and development of innovative earth observation hardware and software, building drones and sensors, working with major customers and collaborators and sharing their expertise abroad through projects and contracts. The place to find most (if not all) of these stakeholders is si-Cluster, an initiative established in 2009 jointly between Corallia and the Hellenic Association of Space Industries, is a Gold Labeled, industry-led and user-driven innovation cluster focusing on Space Technologies and Applications in Greece. Currently, the si-Cluster consists of more than 50 members; including both large businesses and SMEs.

NEUROPUBLIC is a member of the si-Cluster and so I had the opportunity not only to attend part of the si-Cluster Partnering Meeting that took place on Friday, December 2nd but also to make a short 3x3 presentation (3 slides in 3 minutes) on how NEUROPUBLIC is making use of space/satellite technologies (like earth observation ones). It felt nice to see that a SME like NEUROPUBLIC is actually implementing such technologies and data in its workflows, on which its smart farming services are based.

The aim of the meeting was for all si-Cluster members to be informed about existing opportunities, at national and international level, both public and private sector ones, and discuss opportunities for collaboration and alignment of existing efforts. There was also time for networking and getting to know everyone better, as the space technology ecosystem in Greece is obviously limited.

During the meeting I had the pleasure to meet again Dr. Jorge-Andres Sanchez-Papaspiliou, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer at Corallia - an acquaintance from the CAPSELLA project times (I was partially involved in the project as a part of the Agroknow team, contributing to its open data strategy and activities, among others). I also made some interesting connections with both SME representatives and university researchers working on the same topics but from different fields.

I was glad to see many references to precision agriculture in the slides of various participants and surprised to see so many different applications; however, most of them are still in lab testing phase. In any case, this is surely a sign that agriculture is one of the fields where space technology (referring to earth observation / remote sensing) finds a high number of practical applications.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

GODAN: One network to rule them all?

Thanks to its core role in addressing food security at global level, the agrifood sector is not short on networks and initiatives; actually, there are numerous networks with global, regional and national scope that aim to bring together various types of stakeholders and align their efforts in addressing common problems. I am happy to have been directly (or indirectly) involved and participated in several networks like CIARD, FAO AIMS and other FAO initiatives and teams, EFITA, GFARCGIAR (mostly ICARDA) and GODAN, to name a few, through common projects, contracts and events.

My impression has always been that despite the fact that these initiatives are doing a great work in different aspects (e.g. capacity building and training, education, research, information and knowledge management) there was only loose connection (if any) between them. I was glad to see that FAO AIMS and CIARD joined forces at some point, and that there was even a joint event between CIARD and GODAN (the CIARD/GODAN Consultation meeting) in order to see investigate the way in which two big networks could collaborate and function as one entity (I still feel grateful for my participation in that event).

But why am I making this introduction?

I was recently browsing the latest issue of the GODAN newsletter only to realize that it has already managed to encompass various networks and related activities and work on harmonizing their activities. Apart from the description of  the numerous GODAN activities, the newsletter contained articles on:
That looks like a fine selection of what is taking place now at global level in the agrifood sector, in terms of open data. Previous issues of the GODAN newsletter follow the same approach, providing the space and means for sharing all related news and events. At the same time, GODAN explores all available opportunities for collaboration, like attracting new members and ensuring its presence in related events (like the International Open Data Conference and the RDA Plenary meetings) and participating in joint projects with other key organizations. In this way, GODAN operates as the "umbrella" organization (or meta-network) that was so much needed in this ecosystem, coordinating existing efforts and making sure that everything is in place and working properly. So far, GODAN has managed to establish a strong member base of more than 400 partners all over the world, including government and governmental organizations, NGOs, SMEs and private sector - something that no other network has managed so far.

GODAN Summit 2016; another successful GODAN event
I am always looking forward to hearing more about GODAN and its updates and I couldn't be more optimistic about that. It has the potential, the resources and the vision to do great things for agriculture and nutrition and on top of that it is guided by a great team - the GODAN Secretariat (you know who you are!). It seems that GODAN is much more than an open data network; it is the missing piece of a puzzle - the missing spark plug of an engine that runs on open data. Now that more or less all initiatives are into open data, GODAN's role becomes even more important.

One ring to rule them all - one network to coordinate them (Image source: 
P.S. If you're working with open data in the agrifood sector than you have to register for the GODAN Newsletter and if your organization does the same, it should consider joining GODAN as a partner; after all, it's all about openness :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to exploit Twitter for documenting a conference - and what to avoid

About ten days ago ago, I attended a two-day event (the COPA COGECA Congress of European Farmers 2016) during which I was tweeting using the Twitter account of one of the organizers of the event (our @GAIA_Brussels one). Everything was properly set up and there was a hashtag (#DynamicAgri) to be used in all tweets made during the event which was properly communicated to the participants. Through a coordinated action between the social media people of the different organizing bodies, we managed to have a relatively high number of tweets with the specific hashtag, describing the progress and outcomes of the congress. This can be used as a reference in the future and can also be visualized in different ways (see for example the Storify board we created for this purpose). It should be noted that the specific hashtag is used by COPA COGECA in various instances so it was not unique; however, this allowed all tweets made during these days to be linked ans on top of that, all these to be part of COPA COGECA's more general timeline.

The next day was the 3rd Panhellenic Congress on the Development of Greek agriculture, organized by GAIA Epicheirein. Since we wanted to have a bilingual coverage of the event (English and Greek), we had two people (one of them was me again!) tweeting at the same time - along with the rest of the participants of course - in these two languages. The first thing we did was to define the hashtag of the Congress (#GAIACongress16) so that we could "link" all tweets made during the Congress and also to make sure that all participants were aware of the hashtag - so we just added it on the slide that was projected before and during the breaks of the Congress. Again we were successful in documenting the event through Twitter and this documentation can also be used as a reference in the future or visualized in different ways (see for example the Storify board we created for the specific event).

On the other hand, some days ago, NEUROPUBLIC's Chairman attended a global conference (in fact he was invited to talk about smart farming in one of the round tables). Despite the fact that there was a Conference hashtag promoted the days before the event, I soon realized that it was not actually used by the participants of the Conference - not even by the organizer (it was a 50-50 chance for them to use it, based on my calculations). As I was trying to figure out what was going on during the event, I contacted the organizers through Twitter asking them to use the hashtag that they had already proposed; however, I got no response. As a result, I spent some time during the Conference trying to collect bits and pieces from the participants that tweeted (added them to a Twitter list) in order to keep up with the outcomes of the event. I soon gave up, as I realized that some of them either stopped tweeting or were tweeting only about their / their organization's participation in the event and it was challenging to find out who else was tweeting during the event. As if this was not enough, the same hashtag was already being used for totally different purposes like sports and fashion; a fact that led to "noise" in the specific Twitter timeline and made following the progress almost impossible.... 

Preparation is the key: not only you have to come up with a proper (and unique) hashtag about an event, but you also have to properly communicate it before and during the event to the participants (physical and remote) and make sure that it is actually used. It does take some effort to prepare things in the right way, but then implementation is easier for everyone and the results will make up for it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Data revolution in agriculture: Emerging new data-driven business models in the agri-food sector

The European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI)  organized a seminar titled "Data revolution: emerging new data-driven business models in the agri-food sector" between 22-23 of June 2016 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The seminar was attended by more than 100 people and NEUROPUBLIC was there, represented by its President Dr. Fotis Chatzipapadopoulos.

The seminar focused on the core role that data play in the agrifood sector, mostly thanks to the advances in contexts like smart farming and the Internet of Things in agriculture, where data are collected from various sources (such as sensors, databases, radars and GPS, to quickly name a few), stored, processed and used for providing data-informed advice on e.g. farm management (affecting cultivation practices). The constantly increasing availability of agrifood data combined with the innovative ideas that are transformed into data-powered services leads to the creation of a new ecosystem of businesses that work on various aspects of agri-food data management and development of services based on these data. Using this as the basis, the seminar not only allowed the presentation of such innovative ideas by the participants but it gave them the opportunity to discuss them with the audience and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks with real potential customers in order for them to evaluate the business model of their services. At the same time, the participation and contribution of key stakeholders and policy makers drove a discussion on how agricultural and rural development policy can support the data revolution for an enhanced productivity and sustainability in the wide agri-food chain.

The business model of NEUROPUBLIC's smart farming services is one of the aspects that makes a difference compared to the competition; instead of charging customers for the infrastructure (i.e. telemetric stations to be installed in the field, the use of the GAIA Sense panhellenic network for data transmission, the use of proprietary software for data entry, sharing etc., NEUROPUBLIC opts to offer all technological infrastructure for free and only charge customers (i.e. farmers) for the services that they use - and only for them - on a subscription-based model. This is really important for the potential users of these services, as the company mostly targets smallholder farmers who do not have the capacity nor the resources to invest in costly technological infrastructure but still they need to improve their production and reduces production costs. In this way, NEUROPUBLIC is the one to take the risk and invest for farmers instead of the farmers themselves only to receive a fraction of the financial benefits that farmers yield by using its smart farming services - how does this sound as a business plan?

One can only imagine that the case of NEUROPUBLIC is only one of the many available around, focusing on different steps of the agri-food chain and ranging from food production to retail sales. The explosion of data production and availability during the last years has a tremendous impact on the way that the agri-food sector is operating and the pressure applied in order to agriculture in order for it to meet the constantly increasing nutritional needs of the constantly growing population over the next years highlights the need for the exploitation of the available data.

You can find more information on the outcomes of the event in the recently published report (PDF) of EIP-AGRI.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seeing the progress of GODAN through the years

It has been more than two years since the joint CIARD-GODAN consultation meeting took place at the FAO HQ in Rome, Italy. I had the opportunity not only to attend but to actively participate in the meeting, sharing my thoughts on the way that communication should take place both internally (referring between the GODAN Secretariat and GODAN members) and externally (referring to the communication of the GODAN outcomes to external stakeholders). Things were a bit abstract back then and started formulating over the next moths.

Several months later, I also had the opportunity to contribute (as a co-author) to one of GODAN's milestone publications (jointly prepared with the Open Data Institute team with contributions from other stakeholders, too) titled: "How can we improve agriculture, food and nutrition with Open Data?". The specific publication has been widely discussed and referenced since then and was also presented during the International Open Data Conference 2015by Dr. Cathie Woteki (Under Secretary for United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area and the Department's Chief Scientist,, too) and Liz Carolan (ODI) - the person coordinating the authoring of the publication along with Fiona Smith (also ODI). The publication highlights the role of open data in addressing food security at a global level, presenting a number of use cases where open data made the difference in the agrifood sector.

And this brings us to 2016, at the GODAN Summit 2016, and while in the meantime a number of GODAN-related events have taken place both at internal (addressing only GODAN partners) and public level (engaging all stakeholders).

The GODAN Summit 2016 took place some days ago - a global event attended various types of stakeholders from all over the world, including policy makers and representatives from governments, open data initiative leaders, NGOs, global private organizations opening up their data, open data evangelists, etc. - you know who you are & who were there :-)

There were companies exhibiting their open data-powered products and services, networking taking place, journalists and media making the most out of the conversations taking place. But most importantly, there was the will to connect all the open data initiative in the agriculture, food and nutrition sector and provide them with the tools to enhance interoperability. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to watch closely the outcomes of the Summit despite the fact that there was a live streaming and an extremely active Twitter stream (check out the #GODANSummit2016 hashtag), based on which a lovely Storify stream was built.

A lot of things have changed since GODAN's first era; referring to people involved in the Secretariat, affiliations of people involved as members or advocates (including me) and others; what remains the same (and in fact keeps getting even better) is the will and coordination of both various types of organizations & policy makers and the corresponding activities towards the facilitation of all steps in the process - ranging from opening up data to finding innovative ways to exploit them for the common good which is addressing food security at a global level.

I only feel privileged to have been a part of GODAN since its first steps and had the opportunity to contribute to its progress to the extend possible (from my side). I feel excited to see it growing day by day and meeting its short- and long term goals, one step at a time. I will keep watching closely its activities and progress and I strongly recommend that everyone involved in open data in the agrifood sector does the same.

<div class="storify"><iframe src="//" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//"></script><noscript>[<a href="//" target="_blank">View the story "Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Summit" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div>