Last week, 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.

Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions, fertilizer fixes nitrogen from the air, sidestepping the need for energy-intensive production and transportation infrastructure to get fertilizers to farmers’ fields. Photo Credit: Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions, LLC

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.

USAID’s Food Security Open Data Challenge includes three core events. In June, USAID will host an Ideation Jam where technologists and agricultural stakeholders will identify key questions of the challenge by focusing on the overlap of food security priorities and the potential of available data. In August, USAID will host a Codeathon to convene technologists, agriculture stakeholders, government representatives, entrepreneurs, and startup experts to finalize challenge submissions and design interventions that are available for investment. Finally in September, Administrator Shah will host a Food Security Datapalooza and announce challenge winners and showcase some of the best ideas for open-data based solutions to food security.

We look forward to working with a wide range of partners in this effort and welcome you to join us. Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley leader in information analysis, is an early partner and will open its mapping and analytical platform to participants so that all food security stakeholders, technologists or not, can participate in new ways to analyze existing information for actionable results.

Read more about the Codeathon or contact us to participate.