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Scope of Work
This project aims to create I-Choose, a data interoperability framework, to support the provision of a wide range of information about how, where, and by whom products are manufactured and brought to market. This includes information about “green” supply chains or production methods, wages paid to producers or workers in the supply chain, working conditions, environmental impact, or a wide range of other information about the products that they purchase can be delivered to consumers. The project will focus on development of interoperability among stakeholder communities for the single case of coffee grown in Mexico, and distributed and consumed in Canada and the United States. The project builds on previous efforts of members of the North America Digital Government Working Group (NADGWG).

The project team consists of a network of stakeholders involved in Mexican coffee production for distribution in Canada and the US, along with researchers from the fields of information science, computer science, economics, and political science. The project explores interoperability with three types of specific information systems: (1) those designed and maintained by government regulators; (2) those designed and maintained by consumer advocates using social networking technologies; and (3) proprietary data systems from individual firms in the producer, supply chain, or retail systems.

The I-Choose data interoperability network will be unprecedented in nature as it will involve consumers, producers, government regulatory agencies and supply chain/distribution across multiple domains and countries. It will allow more information into market transactions so that consumers can make decisions that maximize their specific utility preferences and align the strategies of these stakeholder groups through market mechanisms rather than through cumbersome regulation. These diverse stakeholders will collaborate to create a series of technical products of the increasing granularity and specificity (ontology, taxonomy, data architecture) necessary for supporting interoperability while gradually expanding their network. The result of this process will be a fully-formed research and practice network and a high quality set of deliverables produced through the consensus of all relevant stakeholder groups, thus ensuring maximum interoperability of information systems. The knowledge gained through constructing and expanding I-Choose will inform a wide range of future collaborations in terms of how to create a trusted environment where incentives for collaboration and competition are complementary, not mutually exclusive. The study is relevant for a wide range of actors who are already experimenting with new forms of collaboration such as labor, environment, and agriculture departments and agencies in the NAFTA region, interested legislators, businesses, trade unions, environmental NGOs, consumer groups, and agricultural associations.

The products to be produced during this three year period are as follows:
  • I-Choose as a community-based data interoperability network.
  • An ontology that describes the domain of coffee production, distribution, and consumption.
  • A hierarchical taxonomy that describes the domain of coffee production, distribution, and consumption.
  • A data architecture.
  • An iChoose consumer preference prototype evaluated by selected stakeholder groups.
  • Policy analysis and recommendations.