Mobile data collection (data collection through mobile phones)

  • elizabethtilley
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Mobile data collection

Just a quick note to inform everyone that the Sandec News is available online here:

www.eawag.ch/forschung/sandec/publikatio...l/sandec_news_15.pdf

There are a lot of great articles on topics related to energy, agriculture and design aspects of sanitation.

I also wanted to share an article about using both paper and mobile phones to collect data and see what kind of experiences others had. There are a lot of pros and cons of each and it would be interesting to see how others have used this technology in different countries/contexts.

Best,

Liz

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Elizabeth Tilley
Senior Lecturer
University of Malawi- The Polytechnic

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Mobile data collection

This is certainly something we will see more and more for all kind of surveying and maybe even donor mandated reporting (see tools like AKVO RSR).

However I was a bit surprised that the text didn't seem to mention the probably best available open-source tool kit for such:
opendatakit.org/

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  • elizabethtilley
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Re: Mobile data collection

Great addition! Thanks for adding it. I listed 10 platforms that I was aware of at the end, so hopefully we can can compile (and possibly rate) even more.

Why would you say this one is the best?

ET

Elizabeth Tilley
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University of Malawi- The Polytechnic
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Mobile data collection

It's the best open source one as far as I can tell from my limited research into these systems a few months ago (see: www.uwasnet.org/Elgg/discussion/view/614...-aquisition-software ).

There might be better closed source commercial systems, but ODK is probably the easiest to adapt to ones specific needs. In addition it is free and can be used without any server infrastructure if that is necessary.

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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Mobile data collection

Hi Liz,

Here in Nepal there is also one service provider for data collection through mobile phones ( www.roosterlogic.com ). One of our programs was one of their first field tests, and to be honest I think this is the way forward for surveys that require more than about 100 respondents.

I have not had time to check out the services that you and Kris mention, but I will describe briefly how the system from rooster logic works.

You can send them your questionnaire and they will program it into there android app. You can then download it to as many smartphones as you need. As I recall, a difference with what you describe in your article is that the REMO app can store the information on the phone until you are at a good phone (or WIFI) connection again, from where you can upload the data.

I think, the guys here at Rooster logic can then process your data into a pre-agreed format and you can also get the whole thing as an SQL database.

One weakness we found is that in the hills of Nepal, the GPS signal caused some problems. Also, the quality of the phone's GPS is usually the first thing that the manufacturers of cheaper smartphones start cutting costs on.

I think on of the great strengths of the system, apart from the ones you mentioned in your article, is that the GPS coordinates any pictures and the answers to questions are linked with times in one file. This means that you can actually check and make sure that your data collectors were out in the field while they entered the data. I know this sounds slightly paranoid, but the way I have seen filled-out forms come back from the field has made me doubt sometimes whether they were actually in the field.

Further, personally, I don't think fingerprint reading technology is in any way far enough advanced to use these systems for any legally binding (subsidy payments, etc.) digital documents.


Regards

Marijn

Marijn Zandee

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  • david12
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Re: Mobile data collection

It is interesting how everything changes in time. I have found an interesting article about mobile data collection and tools to do this. https://www.engineeringforchange.org/news/mobile-data-collection-series/ What do you think about the evolution of data collection?
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