Exploring the future of food: From ICT to IoT

This guest post by Dr. Brenda Connor, Head of Smart Cities and Intelligent Transportation Systems, Ericsson North America, was originally published on November 15 on the Networked Society Blog.

In New York City today, the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce hosts the 2016 Green Summit. Each year, the Green Summit provides a venue to delve into pressing ecological issues of the day. This year, it centers on the future of food – From Farm to Fork – and includes a session on technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The global food industry has, until recently, been extremely focused on the availability of food, and concerns about “food security” – the ability to provide healthy and environmentally sustainable diets for all people – are increasing. By 2050, the food supply system must be able to develop along an ecological public health framework, guaranteeing the balance between food availability and its health and nutrition requirements without compromising the planet’s natural resources.

How can Information and Communications Technology (ICT) help the world meet these needs? Currently, ICT and digital technologies are being used to improve efficiency and productivity in the agricultural industry and to disrupt and completely reform the established industrial structure of food. In 2014, Ericsson’s Networked Society Lab published a report on ICT and the Future of Food and Agriculture, which studied  a number of areas where ICT can change the agricultural industry as well as the two main scenarios for the future of the world’s food systems. These are:

  1. A post-natural world, where technology is applied to push further beyond traditional agricultural practices.
  2. A re-territorialized world, where technology is used to support resource-conservation across the entire supply chain from supply to demand, with a particular focus on agroecology.

The future of the food system will most likely be a combination of these two models, and driven by climate and environmental change, population growth, energy cost, urbanization, and consumption. By increasing the use of technology in the agricultural industry, we will be able to increase yields and productive capacity of the industrialized food system in conjunction with shortened supply chains, fostering regional and local sustainable food supplies, and reducing waste and consumption of unhealthy diets.

Today’s event in New York City provides a forum for top leaders in the industry, in academia and in politics to address issues in the agricultural industry and explore how ICT and IoT can change the world’s food production system for the better.


Dr. Brenda Connor is Head of Smart Cities and Intelligent Transportation Systems at Ericsson North America.

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