Remote Data Collection and Monitoring

The Aceh Besar Midwives with Mobile Phones Program: Design and Evaluation Perspectives using the ICT for Healthcare Model

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 01, 2009
The Aceh Besar Midwives with Mobile Phones Program: Design and Evaluation Perspectives using the ICT for Healthcare Model data sheet 2780 Views
Chib, Arul
Publication Date: 
May 2012
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This paper examines the design process of the health communication process within the framework of the ICT-for-healthcare-development model (ICT4HC) (Author, Lwin, Ang, Lin, & Santoso, 2008). The paper analyzes the planned deployment of an ICT4H project that introduced a mobile telephony-based system to a specific group of users, rural midwives, and examine the myriad impacts and constraints that arise. The broad research question the paper aims to answer pertains to the design and evaluation of mobile phone-based ICT4H projects using a generalizable theoretical frameworks, specifically the ICT4HC model.

The Case for SmartTrack

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jun 27, 2009
The Case for SmartTrack data sheet 1945 Views
Levine, Brian; Hopkins, Mary Ann; Rapchack, Barbara; Subramanian, Lakshminarayanan
Publication Date: 
Apr 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Nearly 40 million people in Africa suffer from HIV/AIDS. African governments and international aid agencies have been working to combat this epidemic by vigorously promot- ing Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) programs. Despite the enormous subsidies offered by governments along with free Anti-RetroViral (ARV) drugs supplied by agencies, the introduction and implementation of HAART programs on a large scale has been limited by two fundamental problems: (a) lack of adherence to the ARV therapy regimen; (b) lack of accountability in drug distribution due to theft, corruption and counterfeit medication. In this paper, we motivate the case for SmartTrack, a telehealth project which aims to address these two problems facing HAART programs. The goal of SmartTrack is to create a highly reliable, secure and ultra low-cost cellphone-based distributed drug in- formation system that can be used for tracking the flow and consumption of ARV drugs in HAART programs. In this paper, we assess the potential benefit of SmartTrack using a detailed needs-assessment study performed in Ghana, using interviews with 516 HIV-positive rural patients in a number of locations across the country. We find that a system like SmartTrack would immensely benefit both patients and healthcare providers, and can ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes and better accountability.


Starts page 458.

ICTD for Healthcare in Ghana: Two Parallel Case Studies

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jun 26, 2009
ICTD for Healthcare in Ghana: Two Parallel Case Studies data sheet 1873 Views
Luk, Rowena; Zaharia, Matei; Ho, Melissa; Levine, Brian; Paul M.
Publication Date: 
Apr 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This paper examines two parallel case studies to promote remote medical consultation in Ghana. These projects, initiated independently by different researchers in different organizations, both deployed ICT solutions in the same medical community in the same year. The Ghana Consultation Network currently has over 125 users running a Web-based application over a delay-tolerant network of servers. OneTouch MedicareLine is currently providing 1700 doctors in Ghana with free mobile phone calls and text messages to other members of the medical community. We present the consequences of (1) the institutional context and identity of the investigators, as well as specific decisions made with respect to (2) partnerships formed, (3) perceptions of technological infrastructure, and (4) high-level design decisions. In concluding, we discuss lessons learned and high-level implications for future ICTD research agendas.

Technology for Early Disease Detection and Rapid Disaster Response: InSTEDD

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jun 22, 2009
Technology for Early Disease Detection and Rapid Disaster Response: InSTEDD data sheet 1550 Views
Kass-Hout, Taha; Marcus, Mary-Jane
Publication Date: 
Feb 2008
Publication Type: 

This presentation provides an overview of the InSTEDD Global Platform for Early Disease Detection, Reponse, and Evaluation. The summary includes reviews the proportion of infections detected and proposes addressing these challenges by adopting a social network and cognitive model approach. The approach facilitates: Early identification of potential health threats and verification, assessment, and investigation of threats in order to recommend measures (public health and other) to control them. The presentation describes the indicator and event-based hybrid surveillance approach and gives two examples of collaborative testing in the field.

Mobilizing Against Malaria

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jun 18, 2009
Mobilizing Against Malaria data sheet 1614 Views
Publication Date: 
Feb 2007
Publication Type: 
Journal article

This article summarizes how the Kenyan Research Institute (KEMRI) in collaboration with the University of Nairobi (UON) abd the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are applying mobile technology to help gather field data crucial to understanding and fighting Malaria. The project featured forms a part of MIT's Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles (EPROM) Program. The goal of the project is to improve the efficiency and accuracy of dta collection and input to better comprehend the spread of disease and develop responses.

Using Mobile Phones to Improve Child Nutrition Surveillance in Malawi

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jun 18, 2009
Using Mobile Phones to Improve Child Nutrition Surveillance in Malawi data sheet 3229 Views
UNICEF Malawi, UNICEF Innovations, Mobile Development Solutions
Publication Date: 
Jun 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This study is the result of a collaboration between Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, UNICEF Malawi, and UNICEF’s Division of Communications Innovations Team in an attempt to use mobile communication devices to facilitate the surveillance of child nutrition in Malawi. As part of the pilot study, health workers at three district growth monitoring clinics were trained to submit child nutrition data via mobile phone SMS (text messages). Using an open-source software platform (RapidSMS), this data was received by a central server and automatically analyzed for indicators of child malnutrition. Health workers received instant feedback messages confirming the information sent and provided additional directions if malnutrition was indicated by the data received. Finally, a website was created to provide the Malawian government and other stakeholders real-time access to this data and its analysis. The report details the pilot study’s findings and outline recommendations for the future use of RapidSMS in Malawi.

This pilot study yielded a number of findings that may be applicable to other development projects using similar mobile phone technology. The results of this particular program included: Significant reduction in data transmission delay compared to Malawi’s current paper-based system. increase in data quality reported by health workers, elimination of the need for time-consuming manual data-entry, increased two-way flow of information between stakeholders at the national government level and health workers in the field, increased system and personnel monitoring capabilities, and elimination of costs related to transporting paper forms and manually entering data.

However, technology can only aid development within a limited scope. The true value of this innovation will be dependent on several other factors, including the integration of RapidSMS into the larger context of health activities and policy making in Malawi; the willingness of the Government of Malawi to take ownership of the platform; the ability to build and develop local technical capacity; and the maintenance of training and monitoring at all levels of participation.

So, Why is Data Collection on a Mobile Something We Talk About A Lot?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 11, 2009

We've been talking recently quite a lot about the many mobile apps available for data collection.  We reviewed them, we featured them, we write about them. Some of you may be wondering why in the world there is such a relative plethora of tools for surveying and data gathering out there and why we keep writing about them.  In short, gathering field data (and being able to analyze them in close-to-real time) allows organizations to respond quickly and accurately to need by constituents to then be able to deliver critical social services.

Here is a very short video, demonstrating Nokia's Data Gathering application, used by Amazonas' State Health Department in Brazil to monitor and treat outbreaks of dengue fever.  The video is not specific to Nokia's tool -- the same benefits apply to any of the mobile tools we have reviewed.  What the video does show nicely, though, is why mobile data collection matters greatly to the health and well-being of people around the world. 

And if you are not convinced, take a look at this very short video about another tool, Episurveyor. It'll give you a glimpse why these tools are so critical.

Mobile Apps for Data Collection Update: FrontlineSMS Forms and Nokia Data Gathering

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 10, 2009

We recently compared the many mobile apps out there for using mobile phones for data collection and surveying - one of the promising areas in which social researchers and NGOs are using mobiles.

Here is an updated version of our overview that includes the newly-released FrontlineSMS forms client, and Nokia Data Gathering, a mobile data collection tool designed for social researchers and NGOs. Here is the summary:


The FrontlineSMS forms client was released last week. It adds basic data collection functionality to the SMS messaging tool. The forms client is a Java application, with all data transfer done via SMS.  The workflow for FrontlineSMS forms is as follows:

New Resource! Using Mobile Phones in Data Collection

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jan 11, 2009

Our field has discovered that mobile phones are useful tools for collecting data in the field.   As a result, there is an abundance of mobile data collection applications and projects.

Unlike bulk messaging and general information services that are targeting the general public as recipients of standardized messaging, mobile data collection applications are often used internally in an organization, customized to fit with existing organizational processes.

This may mean using services or applications that are not part of most people's day-to-day experience of mobile use. Add a liberal sprinkling of jargon (and the mobile world's plague of acronyms) and you have a recipe for much technical confusion. 

An Instant Lab in Your Mobile - Analyzing Blood, Detecting Diseases

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 22, 2008

Wired has finally picked up the story that has been circulating for a while -- the phenomenal medical diagnostic hack using a mobile and beginning to turn it into a lab for developing countries.

Aydogan Ozcan, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), and his team of graduate and udergraduate students developed a medical diagnostic application from a mobile phone, in effect bringing the hospital to the patient. 

Microsoft Digital Divide Solutions

Posted by sharakarasic on Oct 14, 2008

I spoke with Ian Puttergill of Microsoft Digital Divide Solutions. They are working on taking the power of web and data capabilities and extending that to mobiles. He demonstrated an SMS hookup to Excel based on SMS Toolkit that can be used for data collection and analysis in rural areas. In Kampala, Uganda they consulted with midwives to design a system that would find out what equipment, training, and medication local populations needed. They are currently still working on that system and its feasability - it's not yet in the field.

RapidSMS -- A Review

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 29, 2008

In our occasional mobile tool reviews, we are featuring this week two reviews of similar mobile applications that provide bulk messaging focused on NGO needs.  Today's review is of RapidSMS, an open source enterprise level bulk messaging application developed by UNICEF.  Later this week we'll be reviewing FrontlineSMS, the much-touted grassroots bulk messaging desktop application. 

Matt Berg from the Millennium Villages Project will feature RapidSMS at MobileActive08. He has, as part of his work, tested RapidSMS extensively and has written this review for us. 

The upshot:

Mobile Environmental Sensing Redux: Controversy and Promise

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 17, 2008

We have written previously about mobiles as sensing devices to collect data and develop maps and understand patterns of human movement, traffic, air pollution, and even the spread of diseases. The mass-tracking of mobile devices and the use of mobiles as ubiqitous sensing devices are very promising but also have generated controversy, most recently when a Boston University study published in Nature revealed it has tracked 100,000 anonymized mobile phone users' position in an unidentified country (we suspect the UK) without these users' consent.

Urban Sensing: Mobile Phones for Environmental Data Collection

Posted by CorinneRamey on Apr 30, 2008

Mobile phones aren't just for texting. An emerging field of research uses mobiles for "urban sensing," allowing phones to collect scientific data in new and innovative ways. The recently released UN/Vodaphone report, Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in NGO Mobile Use, describes this new field.

According to the report,

Mobile sensing—also known as ‘participatory sensing,’ ‘urban sensing,’ or ‘participatory urbanism,’—enables data collection from large numbers of people in ways that previously were not possible. By affixing a sensory device to a mobile phone, mobile sensing provides the opportunity to track multiple data points and collect dynamic information about environmental trends from ambient air quality to urban traffic patterns. “sparse sensing strategy does little to capture the very dynamic variability of air quality that depends on automobile traffic patterns, human activity, and output of industries.”

Mobile Phone Data Collection for Africa (by Erik Hersman)

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 29, 2008

Erik Hersman, our excellent colleague and friend over at White African writes about a new mobile data collection tool for Africa focused right now on survey and field data capture. His review is reposted here with permission. Great stuff, thanks, Erik!

I was contacted about a month ago by Mark Fowles who works at Clyral, a web and mobile development company based in Hillcrest, outside Durban, in South Africa. He was emailing me to let me know about a new mobile data collection platform called

Tracking Greenhouse Gases on your Mobile

Posted by CorinneRamey on Nov 30, 2007

A new mobile application, mobGAS, can be used to track individual emissions of greenhouse gases. The application, developed by scientists in the European Union, tracks the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane based on information on daily activities entered by the user. Users can enter the information on a website and then compare their emissions with national and international averages.