The Ultimate Go-To Resource on Mobile Data Collection (and growing…)

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 13, 2010

Want to use mobiles for data collection? Don't know where to start your research or where to read evaluations of existing and past mobile data collection efforts? You're in luck! We've produced the resource guide you've been waiting for.

Recently, collaborated with UN Global Pulse to crowdsource an inventory of mobile data collection projects around the world. While this growing inventory shows there is enormous interest to leverage mobile technology for data collection, technical reports and evaluations of deployments and pilots are scattered.

So, we took the lead and compiled the existing literature (as best as we could) in an easy-to-use spreadsheet here.

"'s Go-To Resource for Mobile Data Collection" is a roundup of resources, organized in five tabs:

  • Blog posts and case studies about mobile data collection projects;
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles;
  • Technical reports and evaluations;
  • How-To guides;
  • Inventory of current projects worldwide

Articles are organized by area of practice (Health, Agriculture etc.), country and region, type of mobile technology, software(s) used and channel of data collection (SMS, voice etc.).

Also included are short descriptions of the article content, and key evaluation metrics assessed. (Examples of evaluation taxonomy are cost-savings, scale-up, staff training, technical expertise needed, work flow management, and interoperability).

Peer-reviewed research and technical reports and evaluations are organized by:

  • Literature reviews
  • Type of mobile technology used (PDA or mobiles)
  • Case studies that evaluate the application of specific mobile data collection tool

For better usability, we recommend downloading the Go-To Resource for Mobile Data Collection as an .xls file to your desktop and use the "sort" feature to extract information specific to your work. All of the liteature can also be accessed in’s mDirectory.

We hope that practitioners and researchers will continue to add relevant literature to this resource!

A complementary list of mobile data apps

At DataDyne, we've also compiled a list of mobile data collection systems, including our own EpiSurveyor (, the most widely scaled of all the systems you mention:

I think it's complementary to your own list, but definitely not identical: we focus a bit more on the costs and difficulty and required skill sets for implementing various projects. For example, while you indicate that open-source projects are "completely customizable" by "the user", it's important to note that that is only true if the user happens to be a programmer. If not, the user will need to hire a programmer and that gets expensive.

Also, for our list each of the developers of tools mentioned in the list have been given the chance to provide edits to ensure accuracy.

Last bit: EpiSurveyor is now able to collect data using SMS (in addition to GPRS, Edge, 3G, etc), including from the EpiSurveyor app OR from any phone using basic SMS. I hope you can update our entry.


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