Can Big Data offer the most fertile solution for countering systemic food waste and frightening future scarcity scenarios?
Last month Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and dozens of other companies started sowing the seeds for a crop of powerful applications and information resources enabled by the convergence of sensors, sophisticated imagery and powerful analytics — and inspired by the federal Climate Data Initiative.
Their focus: “food resilience” innovations that help agricultural businesses, farmers and food distributors more quickly understand the potential impacts of floods, rising sea levels, heat waves and droughts, downpours and other extreme weather on crop yields, transportation systems, storage and other supply-chain processes.
In late July the White House issued this challenge: “The Obama Administration is renewing the President’s call to America’s private-sector innovators to leverage open government data and other resources to build tools that will make the U.S. and global food systems more resilient against the impacts of climate change.”
Here are 13 businesses heeding that call both implicitly and explicitly — both in research labs and in the field. This list isn’t exhaustive but it represents some of the more intriguing efforts to emerge over the summer. They’re presented in alphabetical order and include relevant efforts that aren’t officially part of the Climate Data Initiative. (Plenty of public sector and NGO contributors exist as well, but we’ll leave them to a future article.)