A guest blog post by Brittany Dahl, GIS Consultant at Esri Australia 

Brittany Dahl and her co-teacher Vinicius Filier will be hosting the Specialization Track Big Data/GIS at the TFF Academy.

Making decisions is inherent to human thinking.

Whether you are a farmer – trying to determine when to plant seeds or rotate your stock; Or a consumer – trying to decide what product to buy at a grocery store; You are regularly required to make choices based on a variety of factors.

So how do you make better decisions? Drive them with data!

It’s actually no secret that the food and agricultural sector is undergoing a major data-driven decision making revolution. The rise of cheap digital and computer technology, and the adaption of this technology in farm tools and monitoring applications has seen vast amounts of information collected on environmental and social variables.

This includes more information than ever before on:
  • Climate and weather
    (including: temperature, humidity, rainfall, and sunlight);
  • Farm equipment sensor data
    (such as: crop yields, plant-growth, input use, and production value);
  • Distributor and delivery tracking;
  • Consumer and store data (involving: food waste, and product choices);
  • And social media data – to name a few!
Big Data and GIS help to make sense of this information.

Big Data is the term used to describe the process of analyzing complex and large volumes of data to discover information, patterns, and predict future trends. The term came about because some datasets are so big that they must be distributed online across several machines!

Most datasets also have a location, or a spatial-component that allows someone to view that data on a geographically map. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a technological tool for collecting, discovering, organizing, displaying, and analyzing this type of data.

So what can Big Data and GIS do for me?

Together, adoption of Big Data and GIS is helping to discover undetected trends, analyze real-time information, and predict the future. This is leading to better outcomes across the whole food chain.

For example, as a farmer, this means more effective land management, and increasing production and sustainability, while reducing costs. And, as a consumer, this means more individualized, smarter shopping experiences, less food wastage, and new ways to track and trace your food.

With insights from Big Data and GIS, the right information can be viewed at the right time, and at the right location – allowing more informed decisions to be made for the future of the planet. So let’s not keep it a secret!


Brittany is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) consultant for Esri Australia. Her passion lies in technological projects that connect community with sustainable choices. She has four years practical experience delivering high quality geospatial system solutions, technical support, and custom training of ArcGIS products. Brittany holds a degree in Geography from the Australian National University, where she applied innovative theoretical and empirical GIS methods to characterize the impact of social attitudes and geography on urban food choices by consumers. Her thesis was awarded the Charles D Jubb Prize for Environmental Research, and Australian Council of Environment Deans and Directors Scholar for 2016.

To learn more about this subject, join her and her co-host Vinicius Filier in the Big Data and GIS Specialization Track during the TFF Academy. Spaces are limited, get your tickets here