By Nadine Tatge
Previous data collection methods using paper-based surveys were extremely time consuming, involved huge costs, and had a high error rate.
That is why the Government of Ethiopia has piloted the new data collection method using smart mobile phones in one of Ethiopia’s nine regions, the Somali Region.
The software used was developed by the Dutch foundation AKVO using the AKVO flow system. Despite battery charging and internet challenges in the region, the new technology has been proven successful. Trained enumerators would collect data from households and visit water points, entering the data directly into previously uploaded survey forms on the mobile phone.
Additionally, they save the exact GPS location of water points and take pictures of the water points. Huge amounts of data can be stored safely on mobile phones until the data is uploaded to a central online server (the cloud/dashboard). The transfer of data requires internet access through either a WiFi , 3G on the phone, or through a PC connected to the internet.
Everyone with granted access to the cloud/dashboard can view the data, extract it in Excel sheets, visualise the data in pie charts and graphs and most importantly see the exact location of water points on maps.
The experience from the Somali Region has shown that the use of smart mobile phones for data collection is time saving, accurate and cost efficient. The Government of Ethiopia has therefore decided to upscale the Somali experience to the rest of the country with the goal of having updated access of data for the NWI until June 2015.