Introducing the BDE societal challenges: Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine research and the bioeconomy

From the Big Data Europe website

We start this series of blog posts on Big Data needs and opportunities for the various H2020 Societal Challenges covered by the BigDataEurope (BDE) project with some initial thoughts about Big Data in the area of ‘Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine research and the bioeconomy’. 

Normally, Big Data in agriculture are associated with information collected by sensors, satellites or drones combined with genomic information or climate data, which can all help farmers to optimize their farms’ operations. In addition, challenges and opportunities have been identified by existing communities of data managers in this area also around the heterogeneity of the data that need to be combined and integrated for both fostering new research and innovation and providing meaningful information for decision making.

In the broad domain of “agriculture” (which includes food, forestry, fisheries and biotechnologies), a much envisaged big-data-empowered scenario would be the ability to deliver better added-value integrated services that can answer the needs of different types of actors. Examples of such integrated systems go from alert systems (pests, disasters) to image-recognition-based plant / pest identification systems to food tracking systems to global research information systems to any conceivable advanced decision making platform combining climate, soil, crop, pest, price, political and social data.

With respect to the definition of Big Data, which is “triggered” only when there are issues related to data Volume, Velocity and Variety (to which some now add Veracity), for some of the above mentioned types of data (images, observations, sensor data, food tracking information) the benefit of a Big Data strategy would be the ability to deal with Volume and in the case of data streaming also with Velocity; but for the added-value integrated services, the major benefit would be the ability to deal with the Variety of data coming from different sources, in different formats, using different semantics.

This brief introduction is only an initial survey of possible opportunities for Big Data technologies in this domain. An important part of the work conducted in the BDE project consists in the elicitation of requirements from the relevant communities working on data in the fields covered by this societal challenge: food security, sustainable agriculture, forestry, marine research and the bioeconomy. 

The partner responsible for reaching out to these communities to elicit Big Data requirements for this societal challenge is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Our project is a coordination and support action, for this reason we are planning to engage people interested and working in this domain using several tools. Together we would like to design, realize and evaluate a Big Data Integrator Platform infrastructure which meets your societal key sector requirements.

Yearly workshops are being planned in order to elicit requirements for the Big Data Integrator Platform, review the architecture for a prototype implementation, and also to evaluate and showcase the platform. These workshops will be announced on our website.

Besides, we are creating a community around our domain for Big Data interested people.

We invite data and service managers in our domain to join the W3C Group where we can help shape requirements and work charters.

Visit our main website and subscribe to our newsletter ( to find out the exact dates and places of workshops and to stay informed about our project work.
Valeria Pesce (FAO), Timea Turdean (Semantic Web Company), Nikos Manouselis (AgroKonw)

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