Monday, January 15, 2018

Our gaisense system gets social!

During his latest interview, NEUROPUBLIC's President mentioned that 2018 will be the year of gaiasense; gaiasense being the smart farming system that NEUROPUBLIC develops along with GAIA EPICHEIREIN. This means that apart from the actual work (referring to the expansion of the gaiasense network in terms of land coverage and support for new crops) we also need to spread the word about gaiasense and make its target audience familiar with it.

The first step was accomplished; it was the development of the gaiasense website. This is the point of reference for the system, where all available information (at least the public parts) is included. It is important that the website is bilingual (Greek and English), so that it can be used as a reference when contacting our foreign partners and collaborators, too.
The next step is to help potential users and collaborators (mostly farmers, agricultural advisors and researchers) find this point of reference. And this is where social media come in the picture.

So far, we used mostly NEUROPUBLIC's social media (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn page) for sharing news about gaiasense. But now is the time for gaiasense to have its own, customized voice through dedicated social media channels. We decided to go with the same channels that NEUROPUBLIC also uses:
  1. Facebook: We created a Facebook product page for gaiasense. Thanks to the flexibility of Facebook, I believe that this will be the most attractive channel. In fact, the page managed to attract more than 100 followers in just three days - an impressive number, taking into consideration the fact that the audience of gaiasense is pretty limited. A promoted post surely helped towards this direction,
  2. Twitter: We setup a Twitter account for gaiasense so that we can reach a different audience. This channel will be mostly used for promoting content already published elsewhere and reaching out to related stakeholders. We started following related accounts (e.g. agricultural cooperatives, agricultural advisors, agricultural media etc.).
  3. LinkedIn: We created a showcase page for gaiasense, as one of NEUROPUBLIC's products. Taking into consideration that LinkedIn is mostly used in English (and is pretty limited in terms of flexibility), this is expected to be the most challenging channel.

Challenges

Making the most out of social media is not easy, when it comes to Greek products aimed at Greek users (at least for the time being). The main challenges that we face are the following:
  • Language: Channels like Twitter and (mostly) Lhttps://twitter.com/gaiasensegrinkedIn are not easy to use in a language other than English. For Twitter, using hashtags in Greek does not seem to be successful. LinkedIn does not play well with Greek, neither. I have tried using #ΕυφυήςΓεωργία, the Greek term for #SmartFarming, and I was surprised to see that we were probably the first ones to use it! As for the content language, we started posting in Greek (our target audience are Greek and some of them are not fluent in English) but I believe that they would benefit from some content in English, as well. It is about balancing between the targeting audience and raising awareness about the product in general.
  • Low use of social media: Farmers do not tend to use social media; they may have (personal) Facebook profiles but using Twitter or LinkedIn? Hm...no. The same goes more or less for agricultural cooperatives, while researchers and agricultural advisors are usually more active on social media (depending mostly on their age). If they do not use social media, then we cannot reach them...
  • Account names: This does not have to do with the language, but is was yet another issue. The account names @gaiasense were already taken both on Facebook and Twitter. In both cases, we considered a couple of alternatives, and the winner was @gaiasenseGR. I have numerous examples of cases where various organizations (and their products) had their account names taken but still they managed to successfully overcome this. So why couldn't we do he same?
All in all, this is a work in progress. The social media channels of gaiasense will be our tools for reaching out to more potential customers and collaborators and we will put effort in addressing the aforementioned challenges. I am sure that the results will be positive, to the extend possible of course.

So, gaiasense is now available through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, It is up to us to make these channels successful and up to you to learn more about gaiasense :-)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Overview of my 2017

(I realized that I keep discovering new points to add every now and then so I consider this to be sort of a "living document")

2017 has been another busy year, with important contributions and participation to events, co-authoring documents (reports and articles) with impact and many-many minor tasks (which build up and contributed to the bigger picture). I tried to compile a list of the most important ones:

Events:

1. AIOTI Working Group 06 Meeting (Brussels, 30/1/2017): This was the first face to face meeting of AIOTI's WG06 "Smart Farming and Food Security". The meeting was organized by Gradiant (Spain) and was attended by several members of the WG. My participation allowed me to have a better view of the ecosystem and more importantly the people active in this area.

2. Presentation in the KATANA Roadshow Athens (Athens, 2/2/2017): This was one of a series of meetings organized by the KATANA H2020 project which acts as an innovative business accelerator in the agrifood sector. I was invited to present an overview of the smart farming ecosystem in Greece; something that proved to be more challenging than I thought, mostly due to lack of sufficient information. 

3. si-Cluster meeting with Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media (Athens, 7/2/2017): I had the opportunity to actively participate in this important meeting of si-Cluster with the Minister and other officials of the Ministry, which provided the opportunity to companies to present the way in which they use satellite and earth observation technologies and data for building added value services. We presented our gaiasense smart farming system and the presentation drew the attention of the participants thanks to its simplicity, low cost and effectiveness.

4. Joining the list of revieewers of the Knowledge and Performance Management Journal (May 2017): I was invited to join the list of reviewers of the aforementioned open access journal and it was something that I found interesting, so I gladly accepted the invitation. It seems like a promising journal with great potential (thanks to the constantly increased importance of knowledge management).

5. Presentation in the Money Show 2017 Conference (Thessaloniki, 30/5/2017): It was an interesting event, as the session that I participated in aimed to show how an early harvest extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be used for medical purposes, contributing to the treatment of Altzheimer disease patients as a part of a healthy diet. My presentation focused on how the adoption of smart farming in a selected olive grove - Yanni's Olive Grove, one of the first adopters of NEUROPUBLIC's gaiasense smart farming system - can contribute to the production of olive oil with high levels of antioxidants (polyphenols). Other presentations showed how this olive oil is used experimentally for clinical trials (the aforementioned medical purposes).

6. Participation in the EIP-AGRI Seminar "Digital Innovation Hubs: mainstreaming digital agriculture"  (Kilkenny, 1-2/6/2017): This was quite an experience...I had the opportunity to collaborate with experts from different fields from all over Europe and contribute to the shaping of the design and implementation of Digital Innovation Hubs in Agriculture - I believe that this will be one of the hot topics in the near future. Excellent organization by EIP-AGRI, inspiring participants, interesting outcomes. Reports and other material from the meeting are available online.

7. AIOTI 2nd General Assembly & 2017-2021 Strategy (Brussels, 30/6/2017): I had the privilege to represent NEUROPUBLIC in the 2nd General Assembly of AIOTI, which consisted of two parts: an open and a restricted to AIOTI members. It was a unique experience for me to be a part of such a heterogeneous group of people which focus on the adoption of IoT technologies in many different aspects of our lives. During the public part, there were so many interesting discussions on how things are moving on in terms of Internet of Things and how major companies (along with smaller ones) are leading the way towards new developments and implementation in the sector.

8
. Contribution to the e-Forum on ICTs and Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition (June 2017): I was invited to participate as one of the subject matter experts to this online e-Forum and it was a great experience - thanks to the scope of the discussions but mostly thanks to the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders (focusing on the end users, who highlighted the role of open data in improving their agricultural activities).

9. Presentation in the 4th Panhellenic Congress for the Development of Greek Agriculture (Thessaloniki, 9-10/11/2017): I was invited to talk about the role of open data in improving agricultural production. My presentation consisted of an introductory part with the basics of open data in agriculture and presented the use case of NEUROPUBLIC as an SME building services and applications on open data (like the Copernicus ones). It was a great Congress with high participation and discussions had impact among the participants.


During a coffee break at the EIP-AGRI Seminar for Digital Innovation Hubs in Agriculture. Kilkenny, Ireland.


Publications

1. Digital Innovation Hubs: Democratising digital technologies in agriculture (October 2017): I was one of the three authors of this report, for which I am really proud. It was a great collaborative work, which took place remotely (with frequent Skype calls), making use of all existing information about Digital Innovation Hubs in Agriculture and how they could be materialized for the benefit of various stakeholders of the ecosystem. The report was well-accepted by EC officials and you can find more information here.

2. Developing data interoperability using standards: A wheat community use case (October 2017). I was happy to be involved as one of the authors in this publication, which is one of the outcomes of the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group of the Research Data Alliance. It was a long time since I last worked on a research publication so this one gave me the opportunity to contribute to the extent possible to the description of the work that the WG has made over the last years in terms of improving the use of standards in the case of wheat research. The article is included in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) gateway of F1000 Research.

3. Encyclopedia of olive (November 2017): The Encyclopedia of Olive includes different chapters that focus on different aspects of olive trees' cultivation, olive oil production etc. NEUROPUBLIC was invited to contribute with a chapter on the role of modern approaches like smart farming in the improvement of olive (and consequently olive oil) production. It was a challenging task, as we had to squeeze lots of information into a few pages but it seems that  the outcome was pretty good. 

4. Special issue article: A use case of smart farming application in Greek vineyards (September 2017): I contributed to an article (Greek only) on how smart farming can improve the production of table grapes, presenting our experience with the Pegasus/7Grapes cooperative. The article was included in the special issue on wine & viticulture of the Ypaithros Chora newspaper.

5.  Article on smart irrigation in EPI GIS (November 2017): We were invited to contribute with an article on smart irrigation in this awarded publication Piraeus Bank, the major financial organization activated in the Greek agricultural sector. For once more I was involved in the authoring of the article, which was well-received by those who read it (and thanks for the numerous comments on this one!) :-)

That's me at the AIOTI WG06 booth during the AIOTI General Assembly in Brussels.

Other

1. Contribution to the content of the gaiasense website (Autumn 2017): This was another challenging task, as we needed to shape the content for the website of gaiasense, NEUROPUBLIC's smart farming system, in a pretty short time. We had various pieces of text ready here and there but we had to collect them, evaluate their value for the website and then repurpose them from generic text to eye-catching content. Various pieces of text were build from scratch, ideas for the structure of the website and related visuals were discussed and everything was ready on time.

2. Participation in Technical Meetings about the "Collaboration" action of the Greek Rural Development Programme (Autumn 2017): I had the opportunity to participate in two of the Technical Meetings organized for briefing various beneficiaries of the specific action - one in Heraclion, Crete in September and another in Lamia (Central Greece) in December. Officials presented the current status of the framework for the call and participants were invited to contribute their ideas, concerns and experiences. It is a really interesting call based on the concept of Operational Groups concept highlighted by EIP-AGRI, including the role of innovation brokers but focusing on the collaboration between farmers and agricultural cooperatives with companies aiming at improving agricultural production in an environmentally friendly way. The call is expected in the near future and we are already working on that.

Well, these seem to be the highlights of my 2017; I also have some stuff about the work on social media but I guess they'll take up another post. I can only wish for an equally interesting (and successful) 2018 :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

How we documented the GAIA Congress 2017 using Twitter

I was involved in yet another Conference (4th GAIA Panhellenic Congress 2017) in terms of organizing the use of social media and I believe that it was a successful one in this sense.


To make a long story short, the challenging fact was that the audience of the Conference was highly heterogeneous, ranging from farmers and representatives of agricultural cooperatives to agricultural advisors, SMEs, various actors of the agrifood chain, members of EU projects related to agriculture and policy makers, to name a few. This heterogeneity reflected the differences in using and making use of social media during the Conference. It was obvious that we needed to prepare things in a way that would allow us to provide a feed of the Conference's outcomes adapted to the needs of different audiences with different needs and characteristics. But we were up to the challenge :-)

Preparation

First we had to select the most appropriate channel for sharing the news; Twitter was the winner, thanks to its nature which favors sharing short news items constantly, including media (e.g. photos, videos and even slides). On top of that, Twitter has a proven successful history of being used for the same purpose in numerous Conferences. On the other hand, using other media like Facebook (or even worse LinkedIn) for such purpose, creates an overload of information on channels that are used more 

After selecting the medium, we spent time on organizing our resources: There were different organizations behind the Conference, each one with its own audience and each one had to share the outcomes of the Conference instantly, using the appropriate language. So we had the Twitter accounts of GAIA Epiheirein, GAIA's EU Office located in Brussels (@GAIA Epicherein EU), NEUROPUBLIC, along with our personal Twitter accounts. We also had people managing these accounts so that we could tweet individually.

We started with the definition of the hashtag for the Conference (#GAIACongress17), which we arranged to be displayed on the video wall of the conference even before it started, so that participants would know which hashtag to use when tweeting.

Then, we built a list of the Twitter account of the speakers and lists of hashtags which were of relevance to the Congress, so that we would maximize the impact of our tweets. This alone takes a lot of time and effort, since we need to be accurate - I still remember seeing tweets mentioning a totally different person than the one intended or a hashtag that is frequently used in other contexts (e.g. gaming).

Last but not least, we split the responsibilities among the different Twitter accounts; for example, sessions of interest only to Greek farmers would mostly be covered by the GAIA Epicherein account in Greek, sessions of interest (and with foreign speakers) to EU farmers would mostly be covered by the GAIA Brussels account in English while sessions and presentations/talks related to smart farming and technology in general would be covered by the NEUROPUBLIC account (also in English).

Implementation

Despite the fact that we had carefully organized things, it was obvious that one should be able to cover for the others; in several cases, we had our main Twitter managers running up and down for setting things up, moderating panels of the Conference and making last minute arrangements with panelists and participants. In this sense, we succeeded in using different accounts so that we would not leave any part of the Conference unreferenced.


The use (and display) of the Conference's hashtag allowed others to make use of it and be involved in the conversation, which was one of the most important aspects. We kept mentioning participants and their organizations in our tweets, so that they would also be engaged (and they did). We also mentioned non-participating organizations when tweeting something of interest to them, so that they would also keep an eye on the updates.


This resulted in various Twitter accounts being involved in the Conference's discussions which allowed us to spread the progress and outcomes of the Conference at a wider audience - much wider than the one consisting of only the participants. Apart from that, the intensive use of Twitter allowed us to create a simple documentation of the event for future reference, including quotes, images and other media.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

[Publication] Article on smart irrigation in EPI GIS

"ΕΠΙ ΓΗΣ" (roughly translated as "On Earth") is an awarded quarterly publication of Piraeus Bank (one of the largest - if not the largest - banks in Greece and the one most involved in the agricultural sector), which presents selected articles related to the agricultural production and the agrifood sector in general, focusing on innovation and funding options.


Its current issue is dedicated to topics in water management in agriculture, includes an article that we prepared about the optimization of irrigation for vineyards through the exploitation of data and scientific knowledge - something that NEUROPUBLIC already applies in the context of its smart farming project in selected areas of Greece, in collaboration with GAIA EPICHEREIN and distinct Greek researchers.


ΕΠΙ ΓΗΣ is available in its printed form through the branches of Piraeus Bank and in its digital form at http://www.piraeusbank.gr/en/Agrotes/agrotika-nea-enimerosi/epi-gis#1 (available in Greek only).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The gaiasense website is launched

This is what I gave a hint on some time ago and the news can now be shared: The website of NEUROPUBLIC's gaiasense smart farming system is now publicly available!

We started with the Greek version a couple of days before GAIA EPICHEREIN's 4th Congress (keep in mind that our customers are Greek) and the English one followed some days later. The English version is mostly aimed to our partners abroad, so that our work is communicated in the best possible way to them - and I should be the one to blame for most parts of the translation from Greek to English :-) 


There is a lot of useful information about the concept of gaiasense and how it appeals to different types of potential users, news items related to gaiasense etc. However, most part of the content focuses on the four dimensions of gaiasense, as shown in the figure above. At the same time, we are working on updating and enriching the content on a regular basis.

They say that a picture equals a thousand words, so I would skip more (boring) descriptions for the time being and invite you to visit the gaiasense website at http://www.gaiasense.gr/en/

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Talking about open data during the 4th Panhellenic Congress for the Development of Greek Agriculture

GAIA EPICHEIREIN held its 4th Panhellenic Congress for the Development of Greek Agriculture (brief description in English here) at Thessaloniki, Greece between 9 and 10 of November 2017. This year, the Congress was themed "Innovation & Knowledge in the primary sector: Releasing the dynamic of rural areas".



The aim of the Congress was to highlight the importance of innovation and knowledge not only for improving agricultural entrepreneurship and competitiveness of the Greek agricultural sector - and at the same time, but also in addressing effectively EU challenges like food security and the production of safe food products, the protection of the environment, mitigating climate change etc.

On Thursday, November 9th, in the context of the Congress, I participated in a Workshop titled "Digitization in the food supply chain". There, I had the opportunity to talk about the recent advances of data collection, analysis and processing in the agrifood sector. My presentation was aimed mostly at those not familiar with the concept of open data in agriculture and the importance of data in modern agricultural systems like smart farming. I provided the background, info on the types and sources of open data and presented the use case of NEUROPUBLIC, as one of the organizations making use of both open and not open data for building data-powered services that serve different needs of the agrifood sector (ranging from smart farming advisory services to CAP support and agricultural insurance ones).

I even had the opportunity to briefly mention GODAN as the main initiative working towards the facilitation of publication and use of open data in the fields of agriculture and nutrition and the entity to facilitate the networking of various open data stakeholders.



What I really found interesting was the fact that speakers before me referred to the importance and role of data in different aspects of the agrifood chain without highlighting the role of the availability and accessibility of data as open data - this allowed me to make references to the previous presentations and explain that without open data, almost none of these would have been possible.

All in all, it was another positive experience and yet another opportunity for me to talk about open data - focusing on real applications and impact on agriculture and food production.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

[Publication] Encyclopaedia of olive

Some months ago, we (as NEUROPUBLIC) were invited to contribute to an ambitious effort, an encyclopaedia of olive and olive oil. The effort was coordinated by Mr. Vassilis Zampounis, a person dedicated to olive growing and related research. The final version of the publication covers 700 pages and involves contributions from 37 specialized researchers and other specialists of the agrifood sector. It provides research outcomes, business perspectives and other aspects, in a simplified way, so that it can be easily read and understood by a wide variety of stakeholders.

We are glad to be among the authors of this publication, contributing with a chapter on the importance of smart farming in the case of olives. In this chapter we present existing work regarding the adoption of smart farming in the case of olive groves (e.g. smart irrigation, fertilization and pest control) as well as the potential for further improving olive production in terms of quality and quantity with the application of data-powered services.

The presentation of the publication will take place on November 8, 2017, in the context of GAIA EPICHEIREIN's 4th Panhellenic Congress. You may find more info here & here (Greek only) 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Shaping the content of a new website

During the last days, I dedicate most of my time in shaping the content for a new website: the website for NEUROPUBLIC's smart farming solutions. And I like that.

It all started a couple of weeks ago (the concept was discussed for quite a long time), with a meeting between our team and a marketing / digital communications agency team. During the meeting we presented our work and requirements and provided the raw material (content in the form of texts, slides, graphics, publications etc.). Then the agency had to go through all that stuff, get to understand it and came up with an initial layout and structure for the website. Based on that, and after some minor revisions, we started building the content with the help of the agency; we provided the content and they had to come up with more commercial versions of it, filling all gaps.

At this time, a small team inside NEUROPUBLIC (including me) is working closely with the agency, crafting each website section and paragraph, creating and revising content, working on alternative versions and exchanging ideas on new sections or layouts. Seeing our texts on web pages, I realized that we had to make bold revisions to the texts, so that they our expected different user types will be able to identify themselves in the texts and be attracted to the smart farming offerings of NEUROPUBLIC. I also found myself following the stereotypes at some points, getting stuck with a more formal representation of our work but I am working on simplifying the texts.

Even though it is too early to share any specific information on this, I can tell that the work is challenging; smart faring is very specific topic, the terminology used is also specific and the agency seems to have a hard time "commercializing" the texts and coming up with catchy quotes for the website (but still they're doing a lovely work in terms of both content and visuals)! While we have a specific way of expressing our work, we still need to understand that the alternative approach proposed by the agency might actually be the best way to go; in this sense, we understand that we need to balance our point of view and the agency's ideas. We need to make sure that our concepts are properly described and at the same time, we need to be open to new ways for that.

The deadline is really pressing and there are other tasks to be completed at the same time, but I believe that we will be able to come up with a first, decent version of the website - and the corresponding leaflet within the next days. :-)

Friday, October 20, 2017

General Assembly of the Hellenic Association of Space Industry

Today I found myself at Corallia, representing NEUROPUBLIC at the General Assembly of the Hellenic Association of Space Industry (HASI), an association  that represents the biggest part of Greece’s research and manufacturing in the space technology and applications sector, with currently 41 members (NEUROPUBLIC being one of them). It may sound strange, but it is true and proven: There is an active Greek space technology ecosystem and having all these companies sitting at the same table and working together towards a common goal, which is the sustainability of the whole ecosystem, as opposed to the sustainability of each company individually.

HASI low


It was a meeting of people who have the same ambitions, similar expectations and share the same concerns. Their companies have proven expertise, successful collaborations with companies abroad, contracts with major customers and a list of EU-funded projects. They are skilled, innovative and competitive but still they face issues related to the sustainability of their business, mostly due to the unstable legal and financial environment of Greece, the recent changes in the representation of Greece in EU organizations like the European Space Agency (whose projects are a major funding source for many of HASI's members) and the increased competitiveness between the industry and the academic institutes; it is obvious that research is not applied in Greece, and this applies to space research as well. This creates a gap between the research conducted and the lack of corresponding commercial products, which becomes a major issue e.g. in the case of co-funded projects.

I found it amazing to participate in discussions about microsatellites, from design to implementation and even launch to space, all by Greek companies; at the same time, I was disappointed to see that all this potential was hindered and handicapped by unfair policies, wrong high-level decisions, and lack of support from the state (at least so far; this seems to be changing for the better, though, through the announcement of the Greek Space Agency and a related Directorate that aims to act as the central hub for all space-related activities in Greece). Indeed, the two representatives of the Directorate seemed to be more than willing to help companies overcome all existing barriers (to the extend possible) and improve their status in the context of EU projects.

I believe that by the end of the meeting, we all saw the light at the end of the tunnel :-)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Working on the AIOTI deliverable about Agriculture Digital Innovation Hubs

NEUROPUBLIC, the company that I am working for, is a member of the Alliance for Internet Of Things Innovation (AIOTI) and an active member of WG06 - AIOTI is organized around a number of Working Groups that focus on specific domains/topics related to Internet of Things, one of which is WG06 "Smart Farming and Food Security".





Each WG has a plan regarding its activities, including the preparation and publication of a number of deliverables. NEUROPUBLIC (and me, personally) offered to contribute to a number of deliverables and in this sense, I found myself, along with WG06 Chair Luis Perez-Freire from Gradiant (Spain) and Rodrigo de Oliveira from IRTA (Catalonia, Spain) working on the structure and content for a deliverable titled “Digital Innovation Hubs: democratising digital technologies in agriculture”.

The deliverable is about the concept of Agriculture Digital Innovation Hubs (ADIHs) in Europe and aims to provide a number of recommendations about their implementation in the near future. I was glad to ne able to contribute, as Digital Innovation Hubs for agriculture is a concept that I strongly believe in and have some experience, mostly based on my participation in the corresponding EIP-AGRI Seminar in Kilkenny, Ireland back in June 2017 as well as some background reading to help me better understand the concept.

It was a great collaborative work that started in July, right before the summer holidays, with a Table of Contents and some bits and pieces; we allocated responsibilities and started working on our parts, mostly in September. Despite the fact that everyone seemed to be on a fully-packed scheduled, we managed to come up with a 1st draft of the deliverable which we submitted today for internal review by the rest of the WG06 members.

Just by going through the document, I just came up with some ideas for revisions and improvements; I think I still have some time to allocate to the deliverable. :-)