Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Volume 14, Issue 4
This special issue focuses on the potential role and impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on agriculture, food and environment. Papers presented in this special issue were originally presented in the 5th International Conference held in 8-11 September 2011, Skiathos Island, Greece. The conference was organized by the Hellenic Association of ICT in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (HAICTA) member of the European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment. From the papers presented at the conference, only seven were selected for further consideration, three of which were finally accepted.
The ICT revolution and the introduction of ICT-based business applications in the mid-90s provided companies with an excellent opportunity to facilitate, improve, and in some cases to even transform their business processes and their way of doing business. In many business environments, ICT have been an established driver of change and a source of competitive advantage. However, in the agricultural sector (including food and environment), in contrast to other sectors, adoption rates and general uptake of ICT-based applications have been rather slow and low despite the well-documented potential benefits. One of the most commonly referred arguments is that ICT applications have limited benefits for the sector or require huge investments in order to grasp the benefits.
All three papers in this special issue are applied research papers which demonstrate ICT’s relevance for the sector. The first paper by Miklos Herdón, Ádám Péntek and László Várallyai analyse the e-readiness of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and which new technologies can be applied to build a digital business ecosystem (DBE) for SMEs. Based on the results of a survey, they propose an adequate solution system that uses open source solutions for the SME through the development of a prototype based on a DBE concept. The results of their research have proven that the introduction of modern IT solutions could significantly enhance the business opportunities of the SME, and they could thereby ensure for themselves a sustainable presence in the online segment. The survey makes it possible for the SME to identify the useful, yet unused communication forms, and to develop their communications portfolio along these forms.
In the second study by Michail Salampasis, Dimitris Tektonidis and Eleni P. Kalogianni, a semantic web framework for food traceability systems called TraceALL is presented. The authors describe this semantic web service-oriented framework which aims to provide the necessary infrastructure enabling food industry (particularly SMEs) to implement traceability applications using an innovative generic framework. The framework expands to consumer’s health by allowing implementation of proactive food safety policies based on stored rules, checks and alert conditions. The key elements of this framework is that it enables all stakeholders in the food supply chain to have an information trail that follows the product’s physical trail, and at the same time is cost effective, easy to manage and applicable within a globalised, networked, interoperable economic environment.
Finally, in the third paper Theodosios Theodosiou, Stavros Valsamidis, Georgios Hatziliadis and Michael Nikolaidis, discuss the use of data in the agricultural sector that nowadays are produced extensively, yet very often there is little useful information extracted due to the lack of appropriate data analysis techniques. The authors apply three different data mining techniques to data about Olea europaea var. media oblonga from 1,063 farmers from the island of Thassos, at the northern part of Greece. They were analysed using the classification algorithm OneR, the clustering algorithm k-means and the association rule mining algorithm, Apriori from the WEKA data mining package. The results indicated that organic cultivation could improve the production of olives and olive oil. Archetypal analysis was also proposed as a method to extract stereotypes/representative farms from the dataset.
Overall, the results of these three studies confirm that ICT can have a diverse and positive impact on agriculture, food and environment particularly upon SME’s which anyway represent the majority of companies in this sector.
Finally, I would like to thank the reviewers for their efficiency and promptness and also the editor for his continuous support. Without their contribution this special issue would not be possible.
Aristides MatopoulosTheme Editor