PSAM – Platform for method providers

For the current upgrade from RISE 3.0 to RISE 4.0, BFH is working on a new generic software platform on which a variety of analysis methods for sustainability assessment in agriculture and other industries can be used. PSAM, the acronym for Platform for Sustainability Assessment Methods, offers a professional software solution for data collection, indicator calculation, and reporting.

Uniquely, PSAM also allows for indicators to be exchanged between methods, meaning that maximum use can be made of synergies and existing knowledge.

Sustainability analyses for the future

Further development of the RISE software

For 20 years, RISE has been in constant use and under continuous development so as to ensure that the technology is always up-to-date and reliable in the long term. RISE 4.0 is now in development and will replace the current software RISE 3.0 in the first quarter of 2023. 
 
The RISE team will assist RISE 3.0 users during this transition. Data from previous farm surveys and stored master and reference data will be migrated. RISE users do not need to engage in this process.

With a modern user interface, improved performance and ease of use, RISE 4.0 will take sustainability assessment to a new level. RISE 4.0 will continue to:

  • be a user-friendly, accessible and adaptable IT tool,
  • be tailored to the client groups’ differing needs (e.g. teaching, extension, food processing or development cooperation),
  • consist of a database with user management with guaranteed data protection, algorithms, and master and reference data.

In the course of the complete technical revision of RISE, we took the opportunity to develop the PSAM platform at the same time. 

PSAM – Why a platform?

A growing number of initiatives, projects and organisations around the world are developing indicators and systems to assess the sustainability of agricultural production and the commodity chain. In total there are more than 60 multidimensional analysis methods and standards for sustainable agriculture, involving a large number of indicators. Moreover, numerous indicator frameworks with similar objectives and content have also emerged in upstream and downstream agricultural sectors. Although the methods differ in their intended use and target groups, the required indicators often do already exist.

The development of these indicators requires a considerable amount of expertise and experience on the part of many actors, and the developers usually face the same challenges. Developing indicators is not easy: they need to be tailored to a specific purpose, while being sufficiently specific and relevant to meet the SMART indicator principles. Inappropriate indicators provide incorrect situational assessments and can result in incorrect decisions being taken. 
 
In addition to the scientific expert work to develop the indicators’ content, system developers also invest in customised IT solutions for data collection, indicator calculation and the display of analysis results. These can be spreadsheet programs, Excel for example, or more advanced IT solutions. Associated functions such as user management, databases for data management, attractive user interfaces, data import and export functions, and documentation (e.g. reports, manuals, working materials, contracts) are also usually developed alongside.

 

 

PSAM Logo

PSAM architecture

With the PSAM platform, newly available expertise can be shared, experiences exchanged and synergies exploited. Method developers can run their methods on the PSAM software and benefit from the generic architecture, software interface and infrastructure. Own indicators can be programmed into the PSAM system and, if desired, shared with other users. To complete one's own indicator framework, other indicators can be used to compile a package that meets one's own requirements. In this manner, the method developers can use their resources to put the methods into practice and employ these to truly improve agricultural sustainability.

PSAM

PSAM is a solid conceptual foundation for software and provides a community-centred model for sharing methods and indicators. Thus, PSAM greatly simplifies the digital implementation of indicator-based assessment methods. This is due in part to the fact that even more complex scientific calculations can be specified and maintained directly by IT specialists, with no informatics-specific skills (e.g. programming) being required. At the same time, this is achieved due to the possibility of exchanging and reusing calculations, indicators or entire sub-methods.

The platform allows PSAM participants to run their own customisable instance («software») of the platform application. Based on a generic toolbox, they can customise the user interface design, access page and other functions according to their specific needs. This ensures an operating environment that is optimally adapted to different applications and, in turn, a high level of acceptance.

A key advantage of the platform is the interchangeability of indicators between methods. To make this possible, it is essential that the indicators comply with common principles. This concerns indicator definition, documentation and calculation method. To achieve this, all indicators on the platform are recorded in a uniform manner using an indicator wizard that covers the relevant characteristics.

The platform allows for a flexible combination of indicators and the creation of individual frameworks geared to specific needs. This improves the individual indicator system’s quality and fit and provides more precise and accurate information and results.

PSAM participants can make indicators they have devised themselves available on the platform and share them with others, and they can also make use of indicators as part of existing methods, such as RISE. Therefore, each platform participant has access to a greater number of indicators. This helps them to improve their own indicators, to develop solutions for new contexts (analyses at the processing stage for example) and to use synergies by reusing indicators rather than developing new ones.

Contact

Would you like more information about the PSAM project or would you like to discuss it with us? Contact us. We look forward to hearing your ideas and questions.