Future Session #8 How can (open) data benefit smallholders?

Future Session #8 Open data as a driver for improving the livelihoods of smallholders

On October 30th 2018, The Spindle, in collaboration with HumanityX, organized a Future Session on the potential of open data for improving the livelihoods of smallholders. Two experts from Wageningen University & Research, Rob Lokers and Laura Miguel Ayala, and Lisette Mey from Land Portal Foundation prepared and guided the session. Participants to this session came from various organisations, sectors and backgrounds, which provided fruitful input and discussions.

Introduction to Open Data

Rob Lokers introduced the concept of open data: data that can be accessed, modified, used and shared by anyone for any purpose. However, open data has to have a license that says it is open data before one is allowed to use it. This is hardly ever taken into account and so data is used without people knowing whether it is licensed as such (open). Furthermore, although open data can be freely used, this does not mean it is free of charge.

Good open data has several characteristics. For instance, it can be ‘linked to’, so that it can easily be shared and talked about. It should also be available in a standard, structured, format and it has guaranteed availability and consistency over time. Furthermore, it is traceable to wherever it originates.

Next, the Open Data Barometer was shown, which is a global measure of how governments are publishing and using open data for accountability. A discussion then arose on the importance of a facilitative context for open data initiatives to achieve impact. From this discussion five potentially influencing factors on the impact of open data initiatives were identified: 1) the policy environment; 2) the technological environment; 3) the economic environment; 4) the skills of stakeholders and; 5) the accessibility of data.

Godan Action

Rob Lokers explained the methods and objectives of Godan Action. Godan enables the effective use of open data by building the capacity of stakeholders to understand the potential of open data for agriculture & nutrition and to engage with it practically in a developing context. This comes in three ‘types’ of data:
1) Climate & weather data, where open data can work as a catalyst for business development and capacity development.
2) Land data, for which the availability of open data may ensure an improvement of land governance for the rural poor and vulnerable.
3) Open nutrition data, to empower people working on ways to improve nutrition and combat malnutrition.

Subsequently, Lisette and Rob elaborated on the main characteristics, pitfalls and opportunities of the different types of (open) data. It was concluded that all three types of data have an enormous potential to benefit smallholders.

Collective Discussion & Recommendations

Afterwards, a collective discussion started in which the participants shared their own experiences with and questions about (open) data. The discussion was characterized by mutual involvement and support. At the end of the day, valuable new contacts had been made and various recommendations were given. It was jointly concluded that:

“Open data is not only about land, nutrition or weather data. It can be about anything and any project, which might point towards new avenues for collaboration or can make sure that funding is better used. It has a huge potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness”

Below, you can find the links to databases, web pages and companies discussed.

WaPOR database
explanation of the FAO project, connect Laura Pol.
https://g4aw.spaceoffice.nl/nl/
https://space4good.com/
https://satelligence.com/

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