Digitalization and infrastructure (DIGITAZATION)

What are the main challenges? 

We have collected large amounts of data in the agri-food domain with all kinds of sensors (substitutions for manual observations) but still need the digitalization of processes, where information is interconnected, shared, and processed into information. The goal is to improve the efficiency of the agri-food system, while at the same time improve overall sustainability and facilitate the Green Transition.  The main challenge for the agri-food businesses in a strongly digitalized environment is how to design robust and economically viable farm/food business models, which also produce environmental and social benefits. Innovation through digitalization can be incremental, allowing the evolution of traditional farm/food business models, or disruptively, through triggering the creation of brand-new models or the recovery of abandoned, old ones, which are enabled by the new digital technologies. 

We need to: improve data processing/data sharing as the basis for improved decision making, converge technologies, use digitalization to create awareness about sustainable food production by quantifying indicators for sustainability, improve interoperability, standards, semantics, and user adoption. This calls for a more interdisciplinary approach that address how do humans interact with technology. Change of minds on how digitalization work with production system must be developed, and implementation of digitalized systems, with more focus on a total system perspective.  

Key characteristics of the HUB 

  • Digitalization as an enabler of sustainability, Climate Mitigation, and Green Transition, diversity, policy monitoring. 
  • Move from digitization (data acquisition) to digitalization (transform data, connect data, create knowledge and improved decisions). Converging technologies (sensor technology, GPS, GIS, etc.) 
  • Digitalization creates innovations (increased awareness) in terms of managing “sustainability”, “diversity”, “tailored processes”, etc. and fulfil societal goals. Increases capability to adapt 
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives: Technology - human interaction; governance and regulation, “change of mind”. A new discipline of “system implementation” emerges. Combines research, implementation, domain 
  • Transformative dimensions of digitalization: New ontologies – novel objects (e.g. virtual objects); New epistemologies – novel ways of knowing (sensor – tacit knowledge); New practices – novel ways of doing (e.g. services); New relations – novel ways of connecting/interacting (e.g. in the supply chain. 

What kind of research areas would complement the HUB research? 

  • Data science, computer science, data analytics, system engineering (AI, ML, BigData) 
  • Communication technologies 
  • Social science/economics/business/organization 
  • Production and operations management 
  • Biological science and extensive domain knowledge