The Use of Sensing and ICT to Improve the Sustainability of International Food Production and Distribution Systems
The AWARE project addressed the sustainability of global food production and distribution systems, with a focus on fresh perishable produce. The project’s main aim was to identify how sensing, data and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be used to improve sustainability, in particular, to drive waste reduction.
Broadly the work undertaken points towards a systems level approach to sustainability, where sustainability for the whole system is defined, with sensing and ICT being used as a quality improvement tool, and also, perhaps, to forward predict quality problems. In the light of findings, an outline concept of a Sensor and ICT system for sustainability improvement has been developed. This system is focused on providing capabilities that can be deployed for quality improvement support, as well as quality predictions. Three key research areas have been identified that would need to be addressed to realise such a system. These three areas are: (i) sensor cost reduction to enable box or item level sensing; (ii) the use of data mining techniques instead of predictive models based on equations or data tables; and (iii) extending data collection backwards into the pre-harvest and at-harvest phases. To move forward towards the realisation of the proposed system concept, research is especially needed in the area of pre-harvest and at-harvest sensing, as well as the computational processing of data that is required to extract knowledge and useful information from the sensed data and other data inputs.
*Courtesy of the University of Manchester - Sustainable Consumption Institute