On-Farm Networking Infrastructure for Better Social Outcomes

New networking technologies stand poised to transform farming in the United States. Data from moisture sensors, for example, may soon be transmitted to remote servers and processed in conjunction with satellite and historical weather data to inform irrigation decisions. High-bandwidth, on-farm communication technologies will enable the collection of massive amounts of sensor data. These new technologies could have economic and environmental benefits, but without intervention they could inadvertently have drawbacks as well.

A multidisciplinary Cornell team—led by Phoebe Sengers, Information Science/Science and Technology Studies, Hakim Weatherspoon, Computer Science, and Steven A. Wolf, Natural Resources and the Environment—is investigating the potential social impacts of ubiquitous, low-cost, high-bandwidth communication infrastructure on America's farms. In conversation with farmers, developers, and other stakeholders, researchers will identify the organizational and societal effects that these technologies could have, with the goal of using their findings to guide design decisions—with an eye to social impact—early in the development of on-farm communication and networking technologies.

This project will integrate concerns of a wide range of stakeholders into the early stages of on-farm networking development and will foster informed discussion about the potential social impacts of this technology. Researchers will also develop and disseminate practical policy and design options to improve the social impact of on-farm, high-bandwidth communication infrastructure.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1.2 Million spanning 4 years