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Putting Data to Work for Food Security

By Senior Advisor for Global Development to the Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP

Kudos to USAID for launching a Food Security Open Data Challenge!  This announcement kicks off an exciting few months, during which USAID will bring together technologists, food security experts, entrepreneurs, and others to work with key datasets and determine how they can support solutions to the most pressing issues in food security. 

There is a lot of talk about data these days. Much of the conversation so far has focused on data availability, but new efforts like this one are focusing on data utilization. The Challenge aims to stimulate the creation of new applications, services, and insights by creative entrepreneurs to improve access to nutritious food for the nearly one billion people who go hungry around the world.

It’s surprising how many types of data can be relevant to agriculture. Already weather data from NASA satellites are being used in drought forecasting programs such as the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and SERVIR. We could do more with this data, and explore utilization of GIS, market, crop, nutrition, infrastructure, and other data to improve global food security.


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