In this day and age of billions of mouths to feed (and counting!), Agriculture and technology go hand-in-hand. Technology helps farmers to grow more with less, it tracks data and conditions and it can keep everyone and everything connected. The USDA and Microsoft are teaming up and challenging App developers with the “Innovation Challenge” contest to combine USDA-provided Ag datasets with technology to develop Apps that investigate how climate change will affect the U.S. food system in order to achieve better food resiliency.
The USDA’s datasets are available on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform. They include data on everything from farm production surveys to satellite imagery and Ag sensors—some going back for 100 years—that App developers can use to create their Apps. The USDA is looking for Apps that provide “actionable insights” to farmers, Ag businesses, scientists, food producers, insurance companies and consumers with an emphasis on impact on the food supply. Developers are also encouraged to utilize data from other government sources like NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey and so on, in conjunction with the USDA’s datasets.
In an effort to “catalyze the creativity of others,” the contest is open to everyone. It includes $60,000 in prizes, with a $25,000 top prize, and cloud-computing awards provided by Microsoft for university researchers and students. Entrants have until November 20th, 2015 to enter their Applications. More information can be found at USDA.gov.