Data Utility

Working in a system as complex as the food sector, there are considerable challenges in accessing reliable, relevant data.

Government data tends to focus on production (through Statistics Canada) and residential disposal (through municipalities). In many sections of the supply chain, especially, manufacturing, distribution, retail sales, etc., any data often belongs to private businesses and is considered competitive or sensitive. To get a deeper understanding of real material flows within a regional test bed, we need a platform to facilitate the exchange of privately held data that delivers value to data owners and also supports broader public interest.

To meet this gap, Our Food Future piloted the concept of a civic data utility – a trusted third-party interface to work between private organizations. All participants see greater value from the data product they receive than the individual data sets they feed in. This concept was piloted in connection with the ICI waste diversion pilot where real-time data was collected from several businesses diverting organic waste from landfill to compost. Data from each participant was combined into dashboards where participants could see where their waste volumes stack up against other businesses in their sector. Additional pilots were explored in other promising use cases (e.g. restaurants), however, disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic led to these not getting off the ground during the Our Food Future project.