Developing Food platforms Interoperability: from Data to Decisions

With the development of foodtech, more and more services are being managed through digital tools that do not use common standards. To fill this gap, DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM aims to build an open and transparent food system that promotes cooperation among actors in the food chain.

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Food system actors are confronted with the need for multiple data inputs, inventory management problems and many manual operations (production monitoring, land management, products catalog management, online sales via e-commerce tools, invoicing, accounting, etc.) to compensate for the lack of cross-platform communication...

# Human Beings at the Heart of Digital Platforms ...  through Data Interoperability 

To implement the interoperability to allow products/resources/data from different sources to be managed in a coherent and aligned way, stakeholders must agree on a standard to describe these products/resources/data.  

The standard can be seen as a set of essential (meta)data that must exist to allow another platform to call this (meta)data.

If (food) data meets a common standard, it is then possible to develop an "(food) system connector" to allow the data to circulate. This "connector" will take the form of an API (Applications Programming Interface).

DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM brings together representatives of various platforms and supply chain networks around the table  (Open Food FranceCagette.netPanier LocalLa Ruche Qui Dit Oui (The Food Assembly), Ekylibre and Sony CSLto define together the taxonomy and standards on which this interoperability can be built and thus connect the different initiatives.

Food platforms interoperability: setting up a space to support a multi-actors dialogue:

Yes, the topic concerns hundreds of players all over the world (see the Food Dashboard initiative). And yes, adopting a standard for the profession doesn’t happen with only 10 people around the table, but before a flower grows and blooms, the seed needs to germinate and grow slowly in the soil...

By promoting cooperation among actors in the food chain, interoperability strengthens links and synergies within the ecosystem. This allows DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM, beyond the services and models offered by every actor, to work together to build an open and transparent food system that promotes the emancipation of both producers and eaters.

About semantic data: the different technological approaches:

If the players around the table want to evolve toward semantic data and benefit from the possibilities it opens in terms of connectedness, there are 4 main technological possibilities that should be considered all along the project...

# The Advantages of Interoperability 

An easier data sharing mechanism can facilitate transport pooling, answering both logistic and environmental stakes - two major issues in food distribution -, in general and particularly in small scale and local food supply chains.

Time saving in data [data quality, relevance, accuracy are considered] input and reliability of information regarding the availability of products in real time (stock). Producers and platforms can focus on their core business, production and sales. Interoperability also facilitates the implementation of new partnerships, sometimes complicated due to the incompatibility of tools.

# Data Interoperability for Digital Platforms : Data - Processes – Synergies – Prioritization - Real-Time Data - Decision Making 

In this context, the DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM is mainly focused on: 

1. Catalog:

to avoid multiple entries in producer catalogs, simply be able to connect to an existing catalog on another platform

2. Orders:

Make orders clear, easily understood by producers regardless of the software used to sell

3. Communication:

Communication between buyers and producers should be faultless

4. Transport:

The information to communicate to transport services should be clear and easily accessible (links with logistic platforms) 

5. Choose the right tool:

The producer should be able to choose the tool that best fits his needs for production and sales management, whether in limited quantity or not, through the food hub of his choice.

# Data Food Consortium Use Cases : a Co-Learning Experience

According to the DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM, to describe a use case, one should tell:

The triggering event

“The producer has products he wants to sell and wants to be identified by one or various distributor hubs”

The objective

“For the producer, the objective is to be identified and known by one or various distributor hubs”

The actors

“Producers + Software companies (hosting the producer profile or hub profile) + Distributor Hubs”

The flows

“The producer’s info (profile, localization, product categories associated, etc.) can be consulted by distributor hubs and final buyers + the information can be transmitted to third party websites”

The rules / constraints (including confidentiality and access to data)

“The producer chooses to which platforms / distributor hubs he gives access to his information. He can put all his data as open data that anyone can access. Or he can choose to give access to his data to a specific platform/hub. Access right: the producer can authorize a third party to create his profile for him.”

The pre-requisites

“the producer needs an email address and an internet access to be able to reference his profile”

# Use Cases : the first step toward turning your idea into a Prototype

In order to learn and experiment on a simple case the interoperability of DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM platforms, a prototype is needed. An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM can then iterate on.

To avoid all the hard questions of data governance and sensitive contents, DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM has decided to start on a very simple case : a directory. An external platform would be able to display cross-platforms information, like producers and distribution hubs, and would allow requests in all those platforms. For example, on this platform, you would be able to search for a product, and you would see which distribution hubs you can buy this product from on a map...

Once use cases are ready, and all stakeholders have agreed on a common description, next step will be to describe the semantic model of business concepts. Out of those use cases, DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM will list the different concepts (actors, things, actions, places, times, etc.) and then draw a model and link those different concept... 

Want to take part in the discussion ? Contact DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM

Source: DATA FOOD CONSORTIUM

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