The development of guidelines for implementing information technology to promote food security
Stephen Edgar Gareau, Mississippi State University, United States
Mississippi State University . Awarded
Food insecurity, and its extreme form, hunger, occurs whenever the accessibility to an adequate supply of nutritional and safe foods becomes restricted or unpredictable. They are recurring problems in certain regions of the United States, as well as in many parts of the world. A potential tool in the fight against this malaise is information technology, whose utilization continues to grow at astonishing rates. This study examined the question of how information technology, particularly the Internet, can be used to promote food security.
The study used an action science research approach, and a case study strategy, with the food security system of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi selected as the case for study. The research design was a two-phase process. Phase one consisted of a needs assessment among food assistance organizations in Oktibbeha County, and included interviews of key food assistance personnel. Phase one also included a survey of information technology subject-matter-experts to seek their opinions about the current state of Web-based information technology. Phase two involved an analysis of various information technology implementation issues, as well as the development of a Web-based food security information system prototype tool.
The needs assessment results indicated that (a) certain food security system and information needs existed among the food assistance organizations in Oktibbeha County, and (b) appropriate information technologies existed that could be applied to these needs. The food security needs related to better communication and coordination of information, such as program information, food site inventory information, client history information, food donation information, and nutrition education information.
In regard to technology development, a variety of scenarios were examined. These included client-side approaches, server-side approaches, simple e-mail-based systems, Java-based systems, systems based on the Common Gateway Interface (CGI), and commercial database systems.
In applying the needs assessment and survey results, the researcher developed a prototype Web site (including a series of database tools) that could be used to promote food security in counties such as Oktibbeha County. The results of this research showed that appropriate Internet-based information technology holds great promise for the reduction of social problems, such as food insecurity and hunger.
Gareau, S.E. The development of guidelines for implementing information technology to promote food security. Ph.D. thesis, Mississippi State University.
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