Imagine you had convenient, affordable and up-to-date access to a variety of information and expertise, when and where you needed it, presented in a ready to use format supporting informed decision making and innovation throughout the day or season, year after year... Whether its connecting with suppliers and buyers, researching market opportunities, finding land, preparing a business plan to secure funding, or sending out updates to your customers via social networks, many of today's successful farmers are more connected than ever to their value chains and the financial and expertise networks which support them. Managing this stream of information and communication can be a challenge on top of all the other things you need to keep track of. In many cases you simply don't have the time or resources to do a lot of research before a decision must be made.
A number of tech companies have begun to cater to these needs, many with their own proprietary software and lingo. Traditional sources of public support, including Land Grant institutions and Extension, still provide some useful assistance, but much of this is scattered and disconnected, underfunded, and not always focused on the day-to-day needs of small or medium scale growers. A growing number of public servants and social entrepreneurs are beginning to evaluate a more open, collaborative approach to development of these tools, and the underlying networks which can support their open evolution. One of the key ideas being considered is a "knowledge ecosystem" approach, creating information and communications infrastructure that allow a broad range of people to freely and easily come together to share expertise and resources around a particular topic (farming in this case), each teaching, sharing, copying, adapting, and innovating. For such a network to be relevant and usable to farmers, we need to know: - What kinds of information and communication are most helpful? Financial, business, crop, pest, customer communications... - Where do (or would) you access that information (e.g. field, vehicle, home, market)? - When do you need it -do you need answers at a moments notice, in real time, or months in advance as you make plans for the season ahead?
A design charrette session is proposed for getting feedback from growers on these questions. As we work through these, we hope to develop several mock-ups illustrating what the ultimate "farmer dashboard" might be for participants, accessible from a variety of devices, including dumb and smart phones, tablets or other mobile devices, laptops, desktop computers, and print-outs. Its hoped that we can draw a wide range of participants, including not only farmers but folks from Extension, Cornell, local businesses, tech entrepreneurs and developers. See the attached PDF for ideas/definitions related to dashboards, and here http://guides.library.cornell.edu/content.php?pid=84833&sid=639443#2071950 for ideas related to how information & communication technology tools can be used to support farmers, food systems and sustainable communities.
Please add your ideas/ comments below, including images/links of existing dashboards you have found useful!