A recent agroforestry adoption study in Mali, conducted by  Columbia University researchers, utilized an innovative new data gathering technology called Open Data Kit (ODK) for the acquisition of data through a household questionnaire survey approach. The survey was programmed and uploaded into touch-screen smartphones, and was conducted by in-country enumerators who sent finished surveys to a web-based server via mobile internet connections. From New York, researchers could remotely monitor survey completion progress and begin preliminary data analysis.

Despite anticipated limitations and a few technical dilemmas that arose during implementation of the project, overall the data-gathering took place smoothly and effectively. While it is a new and still-developing suite of software, with proper technical expertise and support it was found that ODK can be manipulated for practical use with ample room for versatility. ODK successfully made use of modern technology and communications infrastructure to enable highly efficient data gathering and information compilation, resulting in a useful tool for global development applications.

Download the report: Open Data Kit: Implications for the Use of Smartphone Software Technology for Questionnaire Studies in International Development (1.56MB)