How Open Data is Closing the Hunger Gap

On September 15-16, public and private leaders, researchers and advocates will convene in New York City at the annual Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit to address the use of “open data” in combating hunger and to showcase innovative open data success stories from across the world. Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and re-distributed by anyone, and this summit is the largest gathering ever planned around open data in agriculture and nutrition.

GODAN was formed to encourage world leaders to make their data in agriculture and nutrition open so that it is freely available and usable worldwide for better policy and decision-making. By opening that data, the aim is to achieve the UN goal for Zero Hunger by 2030.

Two students from Auburn University in Alabama, US, have high hopes that the summit will be the launching pad for an idea they have to end hunger in their own community. Ruthie Wofford and Molly Rhodes, both seniors, have been collaborating on an app that would connect local farmers and gardeners with important market and nutrition information, provide a step-by-step guide to gardening and farming based on weather and location, and eventually, become a platform for shared success stories.

“As a student, it would have been easy to ignore the poverty just outside the university, but when I began working with local food pantries, it became apparent to me how ingrained it is in the Lee County area where we are in school.” ~Ruthie Wofford

The idea for the app stemmed from seeing poverty and hunger in the area surrounding their school. Lee County, in eastern Alabama, is among the highest in the nation for food insecurity, yet the terrain is very viable for farming and agriculture.

“As a student, it would have been easy to ignore the poverty just outside the university, but when I began working with local food pantries, it became apparent to me how ingrained it is in the Lee County area where we are in school,” said Wofford.

As part of the summit, GODAN will host a 24-hour hackathon for young entrepreneurs where Ruthie and Molly will have a chance to present their app, collaborate with innovators and students of all different backgrounds and source data to develop the platform.

“The hackathon will give us the opportunity to take our idea and develop it into a usable product that will make an impact back home.” ~Molly Rhodes

“The hackathon will give us the opportunity to take our idea and develop it into a usable product that will make an impact back home,” said Rhodes.

The GODAN Summit was developed to illustrate the opening, use, and importance of agriculture and nutrition data as a critical tool in the fight against hunger. This year’s speakers include WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, ONE Campaign Agriculture Policy Director Kate Van Waes and a slew of the brightest minds working at the intersection of food security, agriculture and nutrition and technology.

The summit will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas. For more information or to register: http://summit.godan.info/register/.  

To learn how open data is improving food security around the world, click here.

(Picture 1: Ruthie Wofford (center) and volunteers prepping food donations for a local food bank)

(Picture 2 (left to right): Ruthie Wofford and Molly Rhodes)