|Mobile-Phone-Based Data Collection Systems Comparison Table||Please contact info[at]datadyne.org for corrections or additions. Thanks!||Note: all developers of these programs have been notified by email. So far FrontlineSMS, Nokia, and RapidSMS have given input. OpenXData gave input but has since rescinded their input.||Easy = basic computer literacy only (e.g. like Gmail)|
Moderate = some tech skills required (e.g. like Excel formulas or macros)
Difficult = programming or other high-level skills required (e.g. any tech skill that required special training or education
|Organization and Contact Information||Cost, Difficulty, and General Information||Ease of Installation, Maintenance, and Use||Operational Info||Additional Features: Analysis, Export, Reporting, Sharing, Security||Form Design Features||Awards/Honors|
|Support Contact||Coded in Country?|
(More than 50% of software development funding goes to local developers in developing countries)
|Cost of Software and Operation||Source code available?||API?||Installed base|
|Reliability||Level of Difficulty|
of Installation/Getting Started
|Level of Difficulty of Maintenance||Level of Difficulty|
|Can data be|
collected when phone is offline?
|Where is data|
stored after transfer from phone?
|How is data transmitted?||Can data be collected by simple text messages (without installing an app on the phone)||GPS Support||Automated|
("analysis"= manipulation of collected data, eg, by generating frequencies)
|Non-Automated Analysis ("analysis"= manipulation of collected data, eg, by generating frequencies)||Google or other Maps integration||Export/Import|
|Export/Import of Form Descriptions||Automated|
("report" = sending info/analysis/data)
|Analysis on phone? ("analysis"=manipulation of collected data, eg, by generating frequencies)||Multiple language|
|Public Form Library||User Privilege/|
|Date Questions||Time Questions||Exclusive Multiple Choice (radio button and/or dropdown menu)||Non-exclusive multiple choice (checkboxes)||GPS Questions||Range-Checks for Numeric Questions (upper and lower limits)||Subforms|
|Yes, almost all|
development in Kenya by Kenyans
|Free for most users (more than 99% of 6000+ users), paid Pro and Enterprise accounts available for unlimited data collection and storage, API access, SMS data collection, own-server data storage, customized automated reports. |
The World Bank documented a 71% reduction in costs with EpiSurveyor compared with paper (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAC/Resources/257803-1269390034020/EnBreve_166_Web.pdf). See datadyne.org/episurveyor/pricing
|Web software has API available, mobile app is open-source, older Palm version is open-source||Yes||More than 6000 in 170+ countries have collected more than 300,000 forms to-date (see www.episurveyor.org for latest figures). User orgs include CDC, World Bank, UNICEF, Abt, JSI, WHO, PAHO.||More than 6000 users uploading 20,000+ records per month. No downtime or data loss since coming online in June 2009.||Easy: no installation for form designer:it is a web application, like Gmail. Easy download of mobile J2ME app from weblink to collectors' phones. Typically takes just minutes to get started, can be collecting data in minutes. No technical staff required.||Easy: no maintenance required for most users as DataDyne maintains the server. No technical staff required.||To design forms, etc:|
Easy - No tech background
required, only basic
To collect data: easy
|App runs on common ("non-smart") phones, Android, Blackberry. No iPhone (yet). Full list at www.episurveyor.org/m|
New SMS data collection works from ANY phone.
|Yes||1 - at episurveyor.org|
2 - on user's laptop (user can transfer data directly from phones to their computer), or
3 - on user-maintained servers
|1 - using the GPRS/internet connection on the phone|
2 - using a cable or bluetooth from phone to laptop
3 - Using SMS from the phone app
4 - using SMS from any phone (best for simple data)
|Yes||Yes||Yes, all users have|
|Yes||Yes, can view all data points on Google Map by clicking Map tab||Export of data to Excel, text,|
Import of data from text format
|Export of forms in .doc, .xml, or .svy formats||Yes, automated|
emails to designated persons at specified time intervals and/or when specified amount of data is added.
|Yes, EpiSurveyor app includes basic analysis of collected data on phone. Also, there is additional "SuperROSA" app for Android phones that a supervisor can use to view supervisory reports about any data collection activity in real-time from the field (requires that supervisor has Android phone)||Yes, any|
language may be used, and additional language version of website and mobile app can be created if user supplies translation.
|Yes, users can optionally choose to share their forms (but not their data) with all users, who can search the common form library based on keywords (this is in addition to sharing forms and/or data explicitly with specified users)||Yes, user can be given access to a form with "just add data but not view data", add and view data, or add/view/edit privileges||Data transmission by HTTPS encryption. Data encrypted on phone and protected by userid/password. Data encrypted on server and protected by userid/password. Verisign certified.||Yes, live onscreen preview of questions, skips, etc||Yes||Yes, integer or|
|Yes||No||No||No||Wall Street Journal Award for Innovation in Healthcare / Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability / Tech Museum Award / Stockholm Challenge Award|
|FrontlineForms||FrontlineSMS||www.frontlinesms.com||http://www.frontlinesms.com/abouttheproject/contact-us/||No (all developed under contract in the UK)||Software is free, technical staff may be required||No||No||Unknown||Unknown||Moderate. Design software installed on laptop, then mobile J2ME app installed on collectors' phones||Moderate||Easy||Many: full list at http://www.frontlinesms.com/resources/requirements/||Yes||On user's|
laptop or desktop
|Via compressed SMS messages (no GPRS connection required)||No||No||No||No||No||Export as .csv text||Unknown||No||No||Not yet||No||No||Unknown||Unknown||Yes||Yes, including|
|Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Tech Museum Award, recognized for excellence by National Geographic|
|RapidSMS||UNICEF, Thoughtworks, Dimagi, Earth Institute||www.rapidsms.org/||Support provided through Internet|
Relay Chat (IRC) on the
on irc.freenode.net (requires
IRC client or
via RapidSMS Google Group
|The main code is not CIC, but the coding for country-level implementations is sometimes CIC||Software is free, technical and software development staff are required (use is "inappropriate", per website, if such expertise is not available)||Yes||Yes||Unknown||Unknown||Difficult: project documents are very clear that technical staff required, also "experience with command line tools and server administration is necessary for installation and configuration" and "Experience with object oriented programming is necessary for customization"||Difficult: technical staff required, also "experience with command line tools and server administration is necessary for installation and configuration". "Experience with object oriented programming is necessary for customization"||Easy: sending text messages (but user must know the correct format for the SMS in advance, there are minimal data checks at the point of data collection)||Many mobile phones and GSM modems||Kindof. Handsets typically store messages in outbox and send automatically once the handset re-enters network coverage.||On user's server||Via SMS||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (depending on installed apps)||Yes||To excel||Yes, import/export of xform definitions in xml format||Yes||No||Yes||No||No on phone. Yes on server application||Configurable user privileges can control access, optional pin codes can be used for retrieving sensitive information||Unknown||All data sent as SMS message. User must properly format.||All data sent as SMS message. User must properly format.||All data sent as SMS message. User must properly format.||All data sent as SMS message. User must properly format.||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes, called "decision tree"||Yes||No||No||No||USAID Development 2.0 Challenge|
|OpenXData||OpenXDatafirstname.lastname@example.org||Yes, per organization "more than 50% of programming funds (i.e. the money that has been spent on programming openXdata by all organizations involved) has been spent in developing countries"||Software is free,|
technical staff is required
|Yes||Yes (basic documentation at http://javadoc.openxdata.org/index.html plus on http://code.openxdata.org)||Unknown||Unknown||Difficult ("unnerving"|
per developer's website): requires knowledge of server installation, mySQL, Tomcat, Linux commands, all-in-one installer available for Windows, set-up of public IP required for GPRS connectivity
|Difficult: requires staff skilled|
at maintaining and configuing Linux servers
|Web application, once set up, is "easy" to use, per developer.Mobile client - easy to use; many successful setups with field workers in developing countries; Form, user, and permissions set-up do not require technical background||Requires J2ME phone, most nokia work fine, some Sony-Ericsson & Motorola Razr. No iPhone, android or blackberry. Full list at http://doc.openxdata.org/category/installation/mobile-install/compatible-phones||Yes||On user-|
|1 - using the GPRS/internet connection on the phone; 2 - Bluetooth available if using windows; 3 - SMS transmission of data is possible||No||Yes||No||Yes (called "reports"). Requires technical staff to configure.||Unknown||CSV||Unknown||No||No||Mobile app can be translated using text file. Questions can be written in any language. Form designer and administration currently only in English||No||No||Data transmitted|
encrypted by HTTPS, secure userid/password
|Unknown||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, called "repeat questions"||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||None.|
|email@example.com||No||Free, technical staff may be required||Yes||No||Unknown||Unknown||Easy: no installation of|
form designer required: it is a web application. Installation of iPhone app from Apple's App Store, installation of Android from various sources
|Easy: no maintenance required for most users as EpiCollect maintains the server||Unknown||iPhone and Android phones||Yes||At Google's|
|Using the GPRS/internet connection on the phone||No||Yes||No||No||Yes, on phone||Export||Unknown||No||No||Unknown||No||No||Unknown||Unknown||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unknown||No||No||Yes||No||No||Unknown|
|Gather||AED/Satellife's Gather is dead as a software development project, but may continue a theme for consulting using other organizations' software||Unknown||Unknown||No||No||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Nokia Data Gathering||Nokia||https://projects.forum.nokia.com/ndg||http://www.nokia.com/corporate-responsibility/society/nokia-data-gathering/english/give-feedback, technical mailing list and discussion forums available at https://projects.forum.nokia.com/ndg||Yes: programmed entirely by Brazilian developers||Software is free, technical staff are required if an organization chooses to run own server||Yes||No||Unknown||Unknown||Difficult: requires installation of software on user's server by technical staff familiar with J2EE (Jboss, EJB3, MySQL), and FLEX (action script)||Moderate||Easy: creating forms is easy through integrated survey creator (web interface), collecting data easy (Java application)||Nokia E71, E72, E61, E61i, E63. Full list at https://projects.forum.nokia.com/ndg/wiki/Devices||Yes||On user-maintained servers||1 - using the GPRS/internet connection on the phone|
2- using a cable from phone to laptop
|No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes, using Ovi Maps||Export of data as xls or csv||No||No||No||Yes (English, Spanish, Portugese) , any language may be used, and additional language version of website and mobile application can be created if community supplies translation.||No||Yes: admin, operator and field worker||Plan is to roll out data encryption with 3.04 release in April 2011.||Unknown||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes ("trigger questions")||Yes||No||No||Runner up for Just Means Social Innovation awards in January 2011|
|ODK (Open Data Kit)||University of Washington, USA||http://opendatakit.org||http://opendatakit.org/about/contact|
Support available by email, mailing list, web chat.
|The main code is not CIC, but the coding for country-level implementations is often CIC.||Software is free, technical staff may be required. Support available via mailing list and web chat.|
For the average user, the end-to-end system takes about an hour to build.
ODK has also been shown in peer-reviewed literature to be easier to use, less error-prone, more cost-effective and more timely when compared to PDA and paper-based systems (AMIA 2011, ICTD 2010).
|Yes||Yes||5,000-10,000 users of ODK stock tools|
10,000-50,000 users of ODK derivatives
More at http://opendatakit.org/about/deployments.
|Carbon For Water collects 40,000 forms per day with ODK. They have generated over one million (and growing) records from 4,000 community health workers in Kenya.|
MVP has collected over 3-5 million data points on 30,000 facilities.
|Depends on if you are setting up your own server or using Google App Engine. Setting up own server is difficult, requiring high-level computer skills. Setting up with Google Apps is Moderate, and less time-consuming.||Server maintenance is easy with Google App Engine and difficult when using user-maintained servers.||Data entry on phones is easy.|
Form design is easy for common types of forms and moderate for forms with lots of branching.
|Android phones and tablets|
iPhone support through ocRosa and DK ViewWorld.
J2ME/SMS support through JavaRosa.
Can be transferred to desktop computer.
Can be transferred to user-maintained server.
Can be transferred to Google App Engine.
|Using the GPRS/WiFi connection on the phone.|
Using a cable from phone to laptop.
Can plot on Google Maps and export to Google Earth. Can also flow data to external programs for analysis and visualization.
|Export is common.|
Import can be added if using Google Fusion Tables or Google Spreadsheets.
Through XForms format.
Requires programming. Examples available.
Requires programming. Examples available.
Forms can be localized without technical expertise.
Mobile application is localized in a handful of languages. Adding more requires submitting translations to the ODK team.
Examples at http://code.google.com/p/opendatakit/source/browse?repo=forms
|Yes||Data transmission by HTTPS encryption. |
Encryption of phone and server data coming in September 2011.
|No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Google Focused Research Grant, Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest, WTIA Industry Achievement Award|