For the 21st Century think tank: mobile data collection and research tools

9 May 2011

(Not necessarily; but we should at least be aware of these tools).

This is courtesy of a discussion on the Outcome Mapping Learning Community and compiled by Nate Barthel and  Mohini Bhavsar.

Here is the full mobile data collection comparison matrix.

A summary of the main tools:

RapidSMS is the underlying framework used to build enterprise level, SMS-based applications for data collection, logistics and communication. The software provides the built-in functionality to help users create and customize SMS-based applications. Third party developers have created applications built on RapidSMS which are also available out-of-the-box.

OpenXData is an Open Source platform for data collection via Java based phones.  A wide variety of data types can be collected, including GPS.  User-hosted server allows for the management of groups, users, creation of forms, and performing surveys.

FrontlineSMS is an Open Source platform that provides for data collection using basic phones and as a result collects data only via SMS.  Software, which is down-loadable to user’s computer, provides for management of users and deployment of SMS based surveys.  FrontlineForms, add-on module for FrontlineSMS, allows users to leverage more advance Java-based to use forms for data collection.

Mobile Researcher is a ‘cloud-based’ service that enables data collection via SMS, WAP, and/or HTML.  Data types vary with implementation.  Software resides on Clyral servers and interfaces with client software on mobile handsets.  Web based console offers users the ability to develop forms, deploy surveys, manage field workers, and analyze responses.

Episurveyor is a ‘cloud-based’ service that enables collection of text and GPS data using a variety of mid-ranged handsets.  Software resides on EpiSurveyor servers and interfaces with client software on handset.  Web based console allows for form development, conducting of surveys, and data.

Nokia Data Gathering (NDG) allows for text and GPS data collection via handsets.  Client (mobile) and server software are free to download and install.  Server software allows for the development of customizable questionnaires, dissemination of forms to mobile phones, data collection on mobile phones, and data submission from mobile clients.

Open Data Kit (ODK) is a set of free tools used all over the world to make data collection and information delivery easier. ODK primarily provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to:

1. Build a data collection form or survey

2. Collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server

3. Aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats

EMIT is a cloud-based service that provides the ability to gather text data via Java based handsets. Web based console allows for conducting of surveys and extracting data. Forms are created and administered with the aid of the Cell-Life team.  Software resides on Cell-Life servers, and interfaces with software on client’s cellphones.

EpiCollect is a cloud-based services that enables the collection of rich content via Android and iPhone phones.  A web-based console allows for form development, conducting of surveys and data .

Voxiva is a cloud-based service that allows for data collection via a number of mobile platforms and channels.  Voxiva provides a number of sector-specific services built around a core set of technologies allowing users to conduct surveys, collect data and perform . Implementation, development and forms creation is done with the aid of Voxiva.

GeoChat is a cloud-based tool that provides users associated with a GeoChat ‘group’ the ability to collaborate over multiple channels including SMS, email, and Twitter. Key feature is ability to display messages with associated geographic location.

GATHERdata is self hosted system consisting of a modular suite of tools allowing users to gather multiple data types via XForms on Java based handsets.  Components include front-end server UI, data storage, and other utilities.

Acquee is a fully browser-based application used for collecting structured data. Design forms, surveys and polls, share them with mobile users.  Analyze and download results in real-time.