Bill Gates joins administration in promoting open agricultural data

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

Bill Gates on Monday joined top administration officials in promoting open access to agricultural data as a way to increase global nutrition and food security.

The Microsoft co-founder and chairman helped launch a two-day conference with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to introduce and grow a new online database that allows farmers, ranchers, scientists and policymakers to freely access publicly funded information.

Through this resource, the federal government provides free access to agricultural information from more than 300 data sets, as well as maps and applications.

With the global population projected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, open-data advocates say the initiative will help combat food insecurity and help provide a framework for sustainable agricultural systems.

“The digital revolution fueled by open data is starting to do for the modern world of agriculture what the industrial revolution did for agricultural productivity over the past century,” Vilsack said in a statement.

The conference this week comes as part of a food security and nutrition initiative President Obama agreed to during the 2012 G-8 Leaders Summit at Camp David.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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