Mobile Data Collection

Mobile data collection is the method of gathering any type of information using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Data collection is not anything new in the field of development, but the introduction of mobile devices has revolutionized the tedious process by making it both more accurate and efficient. Traditionally, data needed to be recorded on site with pen and paper – a process that lends itself to data quality issues. Now, information can be recorded directly onto a mobile device at the source with built in validation and skip logic and then uploaded to the internet thus completely eliminating the need for post-information-gathering data entry.

Mobile technology has proven itself a powerful and efficient tool that accelerates achievement of project objectives and ultimately of development goals.  There is increasing evidence that digital data collection is faster, often more reliable, and in many cases, more economical than traditional forms.  And over the past several years, PCI has gained significant experience using mobile technology to collect data.

PCI currently deploys the following platforms in varying degrees for mobile data collection:

  • CommCare ODK
  • Magpi
  • Mobenzi
  • Kobo Collect

The process:

Regardless of platform the fundamental process for deploying mobile data collection is the same:

  1. Data collection forms or surveys are built in a web interface
  2. Forms/surveys are deployed onto mobile devices
  3. Data is collected on a mobile device
  4. Data is synced to a cloud based server via GSM or WiFi

Data is aggregated on the server and extracted in useful formats (csv, xlsx, etc.)