All that publicly funded research government agencies have focused on for years may be more accessible soon, according to USDA's Chief Scientist, Dr. Catherine Woteki.
Woteki said Thursday that sharing research is the main focus behind the upcoming G-8 conference in Washington, D.C., where leaders from the G-8 countries will discuss challenges of information sharing and develop policies for online global platforms to share data from publicly funded agricultural research
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will head the U.S. delegation, while Woteki will serve as alternate head of delegation and provide scientific guidance.
Woteki said Thursday the main purpose of the conference is to make research useful for farmers, especially in developing countries. The first step to make research successful, she said, was to find a way to get it in the hands of those who need it, most likely through smartphone applications.
"Second step is, 'what is it we want to do with it beyond the applications that are already available?,'" she said.
Woteki added that because the government has already invested in the projects that are out there, the costs of putting together websites or apps to increase access to data will be small.
"We think that the payoff, though, for the farmer – here in the U.S. as well as in the developing world – is going to be so great, that that very minor amount to maintain these open data portals is going to be well worth it," she said.
Highlights of the conference include remarks by Secretary Vilsack, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Founder Bill Gates, panel discussions with World Bank VP Dr. Rache Kyte and White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and several presentations from ag scientists.
The range of presenters and attendees cover the spectrum of leadership from government and industry, USDA said. Each day of the conference will include announcements from the G-8 countries and the U.S. government representatives about the data they are releasing.
"We will provide a one-stop shop for all of our public agriculturally relevant data that can be used by entrepreneurs, scientists and agricultural leaders to build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research," Woteki added. "This is the first step into a new, 21st century arena of accelerating agricultural research."
To read a preview of the topics to be discussed during the conference click here. The U.S. delegation to the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture will fulfill the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition commitment made by President Obama and G8 leaders at the Camp David summit a year ago.