Digital ag set for massive boost; academic

Ag data set for boost; academic


Productivity Commission recommendations on data use and transfer pointed to a dramatic boost for digital agriculture.

A Productivity Commission report on data use and transfer could result in a dramatic boost for digital agriculture, Griffith University Associate Professor Leanne Wiseman has told a Melbourne conference.

Associate Professor Leanne Wiseman, Griffith Law School, Griffith University.

Associate Professor Leanne Wiseman, Griffith Law School, Griffith University.

Prof Wiseman was speaking at Australian Farm Institute “Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture” conference.

Producers were happy to share data, but saw others making money from it.

“That’s a valid concern,” Prof Wiseman said.

But she said the recent Productivity Commission Data Availability and Use public inquiry and report was a game changer.

“If this is implemented, it will be a fundamental and systematic shift, in the way we think about data, in Australia,” she said.

The Productivity Commission had proposed a new, broad reaching, data framework for Australia.

It had recognised it was vital for data to be managed well.

“What we will see, in terms of the discussion from the Productivity Commission, is the development of a social licence around data use and sharing,” Prof Wiseman said.

“For too long, aggregators have been in the privileged position of holding data, with very few responsibilities apart from security, but there was no giving back of that data, in many instances.”

It had been recommended consumers, including small and medium enterprises such as farming businesses, would have some control over the way their data was used and by whom.

“It’s accepted that giving consumers and SME’s access, essentially how their data is being dealt with, will bring community wide benefits,” she said.

The proposed access right would give a structure for data sharing and release.

It would give consumers rights to request edits and be advised if data was transferred or traded.

Consumer data was defined as digital data, provided in a machine readable form, held by a product or service provider and identified with a particular consumer.

The proposed “access right” would give consumers active data use, with a structure for sharing and release.

“That allows arrangements, around access, to be either dialled up, or dialled down, according to the risk in the circumstances,” Prof Wiseman said

She said there had been a growing global push to freely share data and research, funded by public money.

“We need to have a cultural shift, in the way we think about the way we deal with our ag data – we need to stop talking about who owns our data, it’s more about, do you have control of your data, and who would you like to share your data with ?

“Are you getting value from your data, is there a benefit coming back to you from the sharing of that data ?

“We need to start thinking about how to develop trust, around data.

“We need to essentially to start thinking about a two way street, to develop open and transparent relationship, which will support farmers, producers and their business. “Aggregated data doesn’t exist without the farmer, to begin with.

Prof Wiseman said producers could not look to the law to resolve issues around data, as it was “complex, ad hoc and misunderstood - and it’s all too hard.

The law was generally inadequate, as it always lagged behind technology.

“The law will not keep up with technological developments, in relation to big data.

“It can’t run ahead of the technology. That’s one of the reasons why there are barriers to the take up of digital agriculture.”

“It’s always the law.”


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