Pledge for investments into a Linked Open Data infrastructure for Agricultural Development

[As published on CIARD]
The Land Portal, AGRIS, Eldis, Global Rangelands, Organic Edunet, Plantwise Knowledge Bank, Prodinra and the other undersigned data service providers play important roles as global sources of development information in their respective domains.  To meet critical information needs of their users requires continuous attention to the opportunities and expectations raised by the widespread use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). At the same time new ICTs also affect the many locally based providers of development information upon which all global sources depend.  The information value chain is, therefore, in constant flux.
In the current context, the undersigned data service providers recognize the importance of the quality of their service and of meeting the needs of their users of publishing information as Linked Open Data (LOD). This means using a recently developed set of technical standards and technologies for making information interoperable and interlinked.  In particular, these global data service providers are taking concrete steps towards putting in place innovative technologies and services to enhance access, availability and use of open content - emphasizing information and research produced in the South – with the ultimate goal of contributing to a more transparent information environment which in turn will lead to improved knowledge sharing and decision making to enhance livelihoods.
One challenge for data service providers is that whilst LOD standards and technologies are becoming widely adopted at the global level and in most OECD member states, little attention is being given to the implications of new norms for smaller and more specialised information providers, especially those based in the global South.  These include a number of technical issues which must be addressed.  Equally important is the need to re-think how information is gathered and processed in ways which meet needs for relevant information at local levels, and supports local information providers, whilst at the same time contributing to regional and global information resources.  Without serious attention to the issues of how information is passed from one domain to another, and to how it is described in the process, the significant gains in linkage and connectivity between data and information sources offered by  this technology  will not be achieved.Specifically:
  • Global information resources might appear more sophisticated but the quality and range of the information upon which they depend will be reduced. 
  • Local information resources will find their information less visible to wider audiences and therefore less likely to be supported, even in relation to meeting local needs.
In this context, the information service providers  listed above see both a need and an opportunity to work with Southern partners in the areas of
  • Dialogue and Advocacy
  • Technology
  • Technical and Semantic Standards
  • Capacity Development
In a process of mutual learning as to how development related LOD practice can benefit information providers and users at all levels.  These information systems believe further support, concrete partnerships and adequate funding can enable a programme of collaborative work which will seek to find solutions to these challenges.  The signatories are seeking to work together and with others to:
  • Support dialogue and advocacy  especially with smaller and more specialised information providers, especially those based in the global South to build understanding and commitment to engage with LOD and make data open by identifying concerns and needs for participating effectively in a globally linked data ecosystem  
  • Support smaller information providers to make Southern originating information available globally in a linked data ecosystem (Technology); 
  • Lower the barriers to engagement in Linked Open Data (Technical Standards); and
  • Provide mentoring opportunities to support Southern information providers (and indeed anyone, North or South) interested in linked data basics and linked data models (Capacity Development). 
By taking this measured and practical approach, these partnering organisations will enable a more effective, equitable and transparent environment for sharing of information, while at the same time contributing to the quality and value of the development LOD ecosystem.
In addition, these organisations support related  initiatives such as the global AIMS community of practice, the CIARD RING directory of Agricultural datasets and information systems, and the EADI Information Management Working Group.  Thus, there is a strong foundation already in place to achieve maximum benefit from the effort outlined herein. 
The signed partners of this collaborative agreement have witnessed with great expectations the development of high level initiatives, which ask for open knowledge and open data for agricultural development and related data. We adhere to the principles of the CIARD Manifesto (a global movement dedicated to open agricultural knowledge) and we support the declaration of intention of the GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition) initiative.
We now need practical support to realize our goal of developing a global LOD infrastructure for agricultural development.   To begin this process, we agree:
  • To seek to implement further developments of our information systems in close collaboration with each other
  • To develop a high level investment plan that would create an opportunity to take our work to a new level on all 4 challenges (advocacy, capacity development, technology, standards)
We are available to discuss a project and investment plan with potential donors at any convenient time.
Are you a data provider and would like to sign this Pledge? Please contact us.
March 2014

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