Mobile data collection

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Mobile data collection applications make use of mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to collect quantitative data in the field. Currently, numerous mobile phone applications for both Android and iOS exist. These applications allow you to build a survey form to collect specific data.

Some tips for selecting a mobile data collection application:

  • Consider what type of data you need to collect - for example, does the application allow you capture photographs or sound clips?
  • How does the application manage the data collected? For example, is the data integrated into to a single database or saved in separate files.
  • Does the application allow you to setup advanced logic? This will aid in the cleaning of the data afterward.
  • Offline ability
  • Licence of the application, for example, proprietary or open source.
  • Who does the data belong to? Are you the sole owner of the data or does the license state that the application developer can use the data?
  • Security or privacy settings. This is important when capturing sensitive data, for example relating to health.
  • The platform. Is the application available for both Android and iOS? Or only one of these? And what phones do you have available in your group?

Mobile data collection tools

Some examples of mobile data collection tools available are listed below. This is not a complete list.

Open source applications:

Proprietary applications:

Setting-up a form for EpiCollect5

EpiCollect5 is an open source application developed by the Imperial College London. EpiCollect5 allows the user to design forms that can be used on both Android and iOS. Data (i.e. text, GPS and other media) can be collected and viewed on a central server. Once you are done, the data can be downloaded as a CSV or JSON file.

To create a project, you will need to create a login on the EpiCollect5 page. Thereafter, you can use the form builder to design the input form that will be used in the field.

Please follow this tutorial to setup a form on EpiCollect5.

Setting-up a form for KoBoToolbox

KoBoToolbox is an open source field data collection application developed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Brigham and Women's Hospital with support from various other humanitarian organizations. KoBoToolbox allows you to design survey forms that can be reused. The application is available on both Android and iOS and allows for offline data collection. The data can be downloaded in various formats, such as Excel, CSV and KML.

The first step is to create a user account on the KoBoToolbox page. Thereafter, you can use the form builder to design the input form that will be used in the field.

Please follow this tutorial to setup a form on KoBoToolbox.

A paper-based alternative

Field papers is a web-based tool that allows you to create printable maps from OpenStreetMap that can be used to capture data in a low-tech and easy way.

Use this tutorial to generate field papers for data capturing.