About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Food being thrown away as a shop closes

Who was behind this experiment?

What was the experiment?

In this experiment, food rescue was used as a case study to explore the potential of networked intelligent actions – crowd-based logistics based on real-time information. The goal was to test if this would enable more effective mobilisation of resources compared to current centrally-managed operations. Researchers created Breadline, a crowdsourcing platform, which collected information about the availability of leftover bread at bakeries; coordinated on-the-ground movements of volunteers; and enabled information sharing between volunteers and bakeries.

What did they find?

The experiment found that decentralising coordination increased the efficiency of food rescue efforts fourfold. The increased transparency and access to new information on Breadline enabled volunteers to coordinate better and work more efficiently through avoiding the duplication of tasks, reducing time-cost for volunteers, and flexibly responding in real-time.

Why is it relevant?

Food waste reduction is an important pillar of sustainable development in a world that is rapidly urbanising and dealing with the effects of climate change. But urban food rescue operations face the logistical challenge of collecting food across disparate locations in a limited time. Crowdsourcing has proven an effective method to harness the power of the public for knowledge gathering or map creation, but has not often been used to coordinate activities on the ground.

Have a look at the project’s homepage to find out more.