News & Media
USAID Hackathon Spurs Innovation in Agriculture & Food Security aUSAID recently held a hackathon focused on improving food security in developing nations. Many of the projects look to have great potential. They exhibit innovative uses of open data, technology and mapping in order to provide services like crop growing advice, nutrition risk information, and insights into land grabbing.
Hacking Projects To Use Data To Solve Hunger USAID's stock in trade is disaster relief and "technical assistance" programs. But this last weekend it got down to a something more unusual: hacking.
Here are just a few #Hack4Hunger Team Presentations!
The Pineapple Project
I’m new to The Pineapple Project. I learned of it on Thursday, September 13, and I’m now a participant in the project. I’m no developer. I don’t know anything about amassing technical data in order to spot trends and to decipher the best locations to grow pineapples, mangos, or papayas. I’m just a person who has some skills with words.
Fortunately, such people are needed at The Pineapple Project. The developers are busy scanning data and trying to understand how to best use that information. They’re focused on building a tool that could bring relief to millions of people in undeveloped or newly developing countries. They should be that focused. They are working on a project that necessitates it.
Hacking for Hunger Begins.
The Grower's Nation team today has 3 members who are awake: Selena, Greg and myself. (Hopefully we'll get a few more as the day goes on.) Still, as the other two have some knowledge of IT, I can happily use my skills to blog about what they're up to...
Our first big decision has just been reached: we're going to use Google maps as the base for the agronomy data map.
September 13, 2012 | NASA
Skype Group. Check.
Google Doc for participate contact information. Check.
One by one I begin configuring the communication tools that have proven invaluable when recruiting and retaining volunteers for the Pineapple Project, a personal interest originally developed for the April 2012 International Space Apps Challenge. Just five months later the challenge is being prepped to be rerun for its 3rd hackathon along with sister project Grower’s Nation, conceived 5000 miles away in London. Why Continue Hacking? Because there is life after the Space Apps Challenge. Because the need for mass collaboration and big data to mitigate global food security concerns is real. And because we were inspired by Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) and the Space Apps Challenge. However, robust solutions to complex issues like food security require expert insights and access to well-organized, accurate datasets. Unfortunately finding these repositories has been the biggest obstacle we have encountered when designing apps contingent on large information banks such as those linking crop and climate variables. For this reason, we are eager to participate this weekend in Hacking for Hunger.
Learn more about the White House Open Data Initiative, Open Government policy, & USAID’s pilot program: The Food Security Open Data Challenge.
August 30, 2012 | USAID YouTube Video featuring Nathaniel Manning, Presidential Innovation Fellow
July 22, 2012 | U.S. Agency for International Development Impact Blog
Geeks, Coders, Hackers, Developers, Computer Scientists, Technologists- whichever term you choose, people with technical acumen have proven to be some of the most prolific volunteers for social good. It is not hyperbole to state that on any given weekend, in nearly every major city around the world, volunteers can be found gathering together to create products that benefit education, security, economic, and other social interests.
Enter White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and his bold concept for public sector improvement of the hackathon model to connect developers directly to the people who will ultimately use their product, and to incubate solutions to be attractive to investors. He outlines this model as an endeavor of the White House’s “Open Data Initiative” and, following on the successful implementation at HHS, has taken it to various other agencies including the Department of Energy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, and USAID.
USAID is building its first data initiative around food security. Writers, designers, networkers, and creative thinkers from all walks are welcome. USAID is convening a global community to engage more directly with those who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise to the cause of development, and who want to work together to “hack” new and creative solutions to long-standing development priorities.
May 27, 2012 | U.S. Department of State DipNote Blog
Recently, President Obama announced the G-8's commitment to the "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition," the next phase of the G-8's shared commitment to achieving global food security and nutrition goals. One of the elements of this New Alliance is a focus on science, technology, and innovation including the importance of open and available food security data. The group also committed to convene an international conference on food security and open data for G-8 members and stakeholders to determine how to increase openness and access to data. Seizing on the commitment of the G-8, USAID convened six leading innovators to showcase mapping, videos, and other tools that use data for more effective development.
Following the President's speech, USAID launched a Food Security Open Data Challenge that invites technologists, agriculture stakeholders, entrepreneurs, academics, and others to determine the most creative and wide-reaching use of open data for food security solutions and better, cheaper, and faster results. This work builds on USAID's far-reaching commitment to open data including the Open Government Partnership, Open Government Initiative, International Aid Transparency Initiative, the newly launched GeoCenter to increase GIS capacity in USAID, and others. Continuing this commitment to transparency, USAID invites all who are interested to join us, and lend your creativity, your curiosity, and your partnership to raising millions out of poverty. The results of this challenge will contribute to the development of an international conference on food security and open data for G-8 members and stakeholders, and will complement Feed the Future's work to fight hunger and promote broad-based economic growth, particularly through development in the agricultural sector.
May 25, 2012 | The White House Blog
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 theFamine 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.
The Challenge builds on a number of Administration priorities, such as the Open Government Initiative and the Open Data Initiatives Program announced this week by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and of course Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and the recent G8 announcement of a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
Data sets of all types are welcome and needed – if you are have or know of a data set you think might be useful that could be made publicly available, please get involved. If you are a data scientist or other technologist who can use new tools to make use of data in innovative ways; if you are an agriculture expert, a product chain expert, or have another type of expertise; if you are a student or entrepreneur—with or without a background in agriculture—who likes to come up with creative solutions to hard problems; if you are any of these things or otherwise interested, please get involved.