CommCare is a mobile data collection platform built on ODK (Open Data Kit) that allows you to collect data with or without an internet connection. This post will outline the overall workflow of CommCare to ensure you will have the adequate knowledge to successfully implement data collection in the field.

–> Follow this post to understand the pros and cons of a mobile data collection platform (what it is good for and what it is not good for).

Basic Workflow overview:

  1. Surveys are built on a web platform (through a browser on the computer)
  2. Connect Mobile devices to internet and download surveys
  3. Mobile devices collect data (offline)
  4. Connect Mobile devices to internet uploads data to cloud.
  5. Data is extracted from the CommCare Cloud.

I thought CommCare can be used offline?

Yes, CommCare is designed to be used offline but in order to do so it needs to connect to the internet a few times in order to transmit the data.

When does the device need to be connected to the internet?

  • When downloading the survey
    • When a survey from has been built it must be downloaded onto the mobile device and this requires a live internet connection. This is also necessary for updating existing forms to the latest version.
  • When a user logs in for the first time
    • CommCare allows for offline data collection (without an internet collection) but the user MUST have a live internet connection when they login for the first time. This also means anytime a user is being switched they must also have a live internet collection.
  • when data is uploaded / synced
    • When the device is offline and used to collect data that data is stored psychically on the mobile device. If the device is lost/stolen – the data is lost. Connecting the device to the internet and syncing the data removes the data from the device to the cloud. Once sync has occurred the data is no longer stored on the device.

If the device is lost/stolen what happens to the data?

Data is psychically stored on the mobile device until it syncs with the cloud. Unless the device has synced – the data will be lost if the tablet is lost.

I made a mistake, how do I edit the data?

Forms CANNOT be edited when forms have been complete. CommCare does not allow for editing of completed forms. This is likened to traditional paper data collection where forms are placed in a sealed envelope. It is important for enumerators to double check entries to ensure data quality.