Special Issue "Smart & Connected Regional Food Systems"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Thomas P. Tomich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science&Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Interests: sustainability science; integrated ecosystem assessment; food system sustainability
Prof. Dr. Casey Hoy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Agricultural Ecosystems Management; Faculty Director, Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
Interests: agricultural ecosystems management; systems analysis in applied ecology, food system science

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Focus, scope and purpose: Interest in where food comes from and how it is produced, processed, and distributed has increased over the last few decades in industrialized nations. Mounting evidence and experience point to profound disturbing weaknesses in our food systems’ abilities to support human livelihoods and wellbeing, and also to alarming long-term trends regarding both the environmental footprint of food systems and mounting vulnerabilities to shocks and stressors. Addressing these weaknesses in food systems could open key opportunities to leverage inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and resilient growth in economic, social and natural capitals. The focus of this Special Issue is a growing wave of innovations that hold the potential to address the underlying deficiencies in data and analytical capabilities that inhibit innovation in and sustainable transformation of our food systems. The scope of the SI spans computation, informatics, and data science innovations in network engagement, analytics, and translation to enable equitable access to better data and assessment capabilities for use by food system actors and advocates, and to facilitate co-creation of innovative solutions. Topics may include new conceptualizations and applied use cases employing innovative information exchange standards (including ontologies, controlled vocabularies, and data schemas), decentralized data infrastructures, knowledge graphs derived from use cases of food system challenges and opportunities, generalized workflows, legal frameworks and data governance standards, and user interfaces (UI/UX), as components of an intelligent food system. The overarching purpose is to enhance equity, sustainability, and resilience through collaborative, user-driven experimentation within complex food systems, supported by diverse agroecosystems, circular economies, and equity-based cultural norms.

Relationship to existing literature: There are studies that take a partial approach to these opportunities, covering some aspects (economic, environmental, or social) but missing others, thereby failing to provide a comprehensive framework for food system sustainability and resilience. Among these, some use top-down, static approaches, while those that are more innovative in data science tend to be proprietary, and hence exclusive (and unpublished). We emphasize articles that take an open approach to data, seek interoperability among linked data and tools, and strive for holistic, comprehensive, and dynamic approaches to challenges and opportunities to support food system sustainability. This encompasses tools for systems analysis as well as community engagement, incubation of entrepreneurship, and legal aspects of data sharing (IP, privacy, and data ethics).

Prof. Dr. Thomas Tomich
Prof. Dr. Casey Hoy
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • food systems
  • informatics
  • controlled vocabularies
  • ontologies
  • semantic web of food
  • internet of food
  • linked open data
  • blockchain
  • FAIR data
  • knowledge graphs
  • social network analysis
  • activity analysis
  • value chains
  • value-based food systems
  • regional food systems
  • community engagement
  • social justice
  • food justice
  • food sovereignty
  • democratization
  • food access
  • food security
  • food as medicine
  • sustainable agriculture
  • resilience
  • agroecology
  • agroecosystems
  • working landscapes
  • logistics
  • supply chains
  • traceability
  • transparency
  • trust
  • food entrepreneurship
  • innovation
  • intellectual property rights
  • data privacy
  • data sovereignty

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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