USDA cultivates open data

The Department of Agriculture announced highlights of its open data initiative as well goals for the next year.

The burgeoning open data movement has taken hold in federal agencies as well as state and local governments.  Open data increases citizens’ confidence in government and fosters innovation and economic growth. Additionally, open data can improve agency operations as data is available in a central location.

In the last year, the Department of Agriculture has published over 800 data sets on usda.gov/data and data.gov, according to a recent agency announcement.  

In addition, USDA said it is engaging other stakeholders so it can use that feedback to improve future data submissions. In the last year USDA participated in the Safety Data Palooza and held Open Data Executive Seminars and the Open Data 500 Roundtable.

The Safety Data Palooza was co-hosted with the Department of Transportation to highlight innovations using open data from developers in the private, non-profit and academic sectors.  Various IT professionals from USDA lead policymakers during Open Data Executive Seminars providing briefings on open and big data. 

Lastly, the Open Data 500 Roundtable promoted the use of data to combat climate change.  The roundtable examined various ways data can address the risk climate change poses to the food supply as well as how data can help produce “food resilience” among the farming and food producing industry.    

USDA will continue to promote open data in 2015, outlining five goals: 

  • Document and institutionalize data publishing.
  • Development of interagency partnerships that can provide greater value for innovators and small business startups.
  • Improve the quality of USDA data sets.
  • Work with AgGateway, a group of non-profit businesses that aim to enhance and expand e-business in agriculture, to build on standards and definitions.
  • Identify who is using USDA open data sets in order to better tailor services to those users.
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