Mobile Data Collection Opportunities in Sub Saharan Africa is a multi-phase research project that was completed by France-Telecom Orange in late 2012 and published by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF) earlier this year. The objective of the project is to present the state of the art of mobile data collection activities, as well as identify opportunities leading to the development and deployment of an innovative mobile data collection software solutions or services.
In a recent update to the project, the authors revisit the field of mobile data collection and the panorama of tools available, and include new trends, how issues previously outlined have evolved, and how new issues ones have appeared. In this post, we will list some of the missing features of mobile data collection software that were identified in the France-Telecom Orange project update, and describe the elements of COMMAND Mobile (CM) software that address those missing features.
Missing Features of Mobile Data Collection Software
As noted in the project, “Any software application has missing features. In this case, we can list a few of them which are not or seldom implemented across the board, but which would clearly improve the data collection process or open the tools to a wider range of applications:”
(WWWF): Security: being able to control where the data reside (on a local server, a cloud server or the devices), and whether they are encrypted. Allowing access to the data or its analyses to the right people is also an issue, often required by law. This is important in human rights and health applications.
(CM): In COMMANDmobile, until the data is uploaded it resides on the device. The system does have the ability to direct where the data is stored – it can be a cloud server, a local server, or completely passed through to the customers interfaces and never stored in COMMANDmobile’s databases at all. Access to the uploaded data is granted on a permission basis. The user would have to have Report access within the system and have access to a particular “site” or segment of data within the system.
(WWWF): Partial submission: sometimes, the completion of a survey can be interrupted, so having functionality where a half-filled form can be saved and retrieved later would help improve the response rate.
(CM): COMMANDmobile supports partial uploads of surveys that can then be completed at a later date.
(WWWF): Separate instructions for front-line workers, when available
(CM): COMMANDmobile has tutorials built into the mobile application to provide help with using to the software to front end users. In addition, COMMANDmobile also supports Reference Documents associated with particular forms or surveys – essentially additional information or instructions for the front-line workers. For example, in a maintenance scenario, the reference documents might be schematics or part lists. In an engineering scenario, the reference documents might be inspection instructions or required calculations. The reference documents can contain any information that may be useful to the front-line workers collecting data.
(WWWF): Real-time data submission and support for generic sensor type (e.g., sphygmomanometer)
(CM): COMMANDmobile supports real-time submission of data anytime a data connection is available.
(WWWF): Multimedia prompts, e.g., video or sound for illiterate respondents
(CM): COMMANDmobile is continuing to improve the mobile data collection process, and may be adding video or sound for illiterate respondents in a future release.
COMMAND Mobile Overview
COMMAND Mobile is a mobile data collection software solution that offers the following benefits:
- Increases Productivity – allows field workers to be mobile while providing real-time access to centralized back-end data stores
- Eliminates Redundancy – enter your data once and transmit it to everyone who needs it in minutes
- Improves Workforce Management – With the GPS tracking and mapping feature, managers can direct tasks to field workers based on their locations
- Reduces Implementation Time – with our easy to use form generator, you can create data collection forms on the fly to accommodate the data requirements of any application, for any industry