Create a platform for data sharing
To build a smart food system across the region, we need to be smarter about how we use data. This means creating infrastructure that breaks down silos and facilitates data sharing, collaboration and innovation. It also means creating a governance system that collaborators and the public can trust.
To create this, Our Food Future is working with ESRI (an international supplier of GIS software) and Alectra (the local power utility) to establish the Food Future Data Hub that will connect and share important food-related data sets between across our wide range of collaborator organizations. The Data Hub will help break down data silos, enabling data providers and data consumers to connect using standardized data governance protocols and interconnected data sharing agreements. Through the Data Hub, we’ll publish open data sets and create maps, dashboards and other visualizations that help our community better understand the opportunities and challenges around food in Guelph-Wellington and track the impacts of Our Food Future.
The Data Hub creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and social innovators to build new products, services and initiatives off shared open data.
The Data Hub performs two key services:
- Provide live, secure access to data through standardized, open protocols. The platform is being designed around the principal of distributed governance. Data will not be copied or stored in a central location. Instead, control will always remain with the data contributor who can decide what data is exposed and grant or revoke access. Meanwhile, open protocols will avoid any proprietary vendor lock-in of data.
- Facilitate the development of digital applications by providing an Application Platform. Using the Data Hub’s development platform, innovators and entrepreneurs can develop, share and monetize value-added tools, solutions and apps to fuel further innovation. As well as hosting and executing applications, the platform will also include tools and modules to enable native analysis and reporting. Among other things, this will enable the creation of dashboard for each of the three Our Food Future workstreams to communicate their ongoing projects and results.
We’ll co-design this platform with stakeholders in a process facilitated by the public Data Utility that we’re currently establishing.
Given the intention to build open-source infrastructure, it’s particularly important not to tightly define the platform or approach too early in this initiative. Ongoing engagement with the community of users around the tools they use will be critical.
Leveraging food system data to help our partners innovate and respond to the changing market
In 2020 and 2021, our data collaboration efforts will focus on helping partners undertake projects that bolster food security and economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19. This includes identifying immediate needs and leveraging food system data to help delivery partners innovate and respond to the changing market. We’ll draw on the data collected through our material flow study, as well as other data sets shared through the Data Hub. Meanwhile, we’ll focus the Utility’s first use cases on identifying immediate gaps or excess resources that can support food security and economic recovery.