Almost every project in rural development, disaster management and community awareness calls for field surveys for the collection of primary data. In low income country like Pakistan where capacity and administrative problems with the collection of data are common, surveys are often the only way to collect reliable data. Paper based data collection has been the standard method for decades but errors are frequent, storage costs are prohibitive, and the costs of double data entry are high. Recent advancement in communication technology has introduced the electronic methods of data collection in order to merge the process of data collection and data entry. Handheld devices such as personal digital assistants and smart phones are increasingly being used instead of paper and pencil methods of data collection.
In 2008 Pakistan was the world’s third fastest growing telecommunications market. Pakistan’s telecom infrastructure is improving dramatically with foreign and domestic investments into fixed-line and mobile networks; fiber systems are being constructed throughout the country to aid in network growth. Approximately 90 percent of Pakistanis live within areas that have cell phone coverage and more than half of all Pakistanis have access to a cell phone. With 118 million mobile subscribers in March 2012, Pakistan has the highest mobile penetration rate in the South Asian region (Wikipedia 2012). This gives us a very positive opportunity to use mobile based data collection mechanisms in our regular data collection and research activities to reduce our cost and improve accuracy and efficiency.
The concept of electronic data collection has been applied successfully in many developing countries in the field of health, agriculture, socio-economic studies, livelihoods & economic development, micro finance, market analysis and customer satisfaction studies. Recently this data collection mechanism has been adopted in Pakistan by some national and international organizations to collect data from remote areas at a reasonably large scale.
Mobile based Data Collection is a structured process of systematic data collection using mobile devices/ smart phones/ tablets. It commonly uses an online server to submit the data. Data can be sent using mobile carrier service or internet connection.
Open Data Kit (ODK) is a suite of tools that allows data collection using Android mobile devices and data submission to an online server, even without an Internet connection or mobile carrier service at the time of data collection. One may streamline the data collection process with ODK Collect by replacing traditional paper forms with electronic forms that allow text, numeric data, GPS, photo, video, barcodes, and audio uploads to an online server. You can host your data online using Google’s powerful hosting platform, AppEngine, manage your data using ODK Aggregate and visualize your data as a map using Google Fusion Tables and Google Earth.
If you need customization of ODK tools for your work related to surveys, research, assessments or interview, CityPulse can help. Contact our ODK experts to get started.