Open Data Kit: Tools to Build Information Services for Developing Regions

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 13, 2011
Open Data Kit: Tools to Build Information Services for Developing Regions data sheet 1136 Views
Hartung, Carl, Yaw Anokwa, Waylon Brunette, Adam Lerer, Clint Tseng, and Gaetano Borriello
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This paper presents Open Data Kit (ODK), an extensible, open-source suite of tools designed to build information services for developing regions. ODK currently provides four tools to this end: Collect, Aggregate, Voice, and Build. Collect is a mobile platform that renders application logic and supports the manipulation of data. Aggregate provides a “click-to-deploy” server that supports data storage and transfer in the “cloud” or on local servers. Voice renders application logic using phone prompts that users respond to with keypad presses. Finally, Build is a application designer that generates the logic used by the tools. Designed to be used together or independently, ODK core tools build on existing open standards and are supported by an open-source community that has contributed additional tools. We describe four deployments that demonstrate how the decisions made in the system architecture of ODK enable services that can both push and pull information in developing regions.

Enabling Data-Driven Decisions with the Open Data Kit (ODK)

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 12, 2010
Enabling Data-Driven Decisions with the Open Data Kit (ODK) data sheet 5465 Views
A research group at the University of Washington has done what few others manage – turn a research project into a real-world application. Open Data Kit (ODK) is a collection of tools that allows organizations to collect and send data using mobile phones. The system, in operation for about a year, has already been used for projects such as counseling and testing HIV patients in Kenya to monitoring forests in the Brazilian Amazon.  

What is ODK?

The project began when University of Washington (UW) professor Gaetano Borriello began a sabbatical at Google to build a mobile data collection system. He brought along some of his PhD students from UW’s Computer Science and Engineering program to work on the idea as their intern project, and ODK was born.  
Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The project goals were:

  • Create a mobile, open source data management system
  • Grow a community around an open source project 
Brief description of the project: 

ODK is an open-source collection of tools that makes collecting, sharing and managing data easier. 

Target audience: 

Workers who want to reduce the amount of paper form processing could be:

  • Community Health Workers
  • Human Rights Monitors
  • Researchers
Detailed Information
Mobile Tools Used: 
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 
  • The rapid pick-up of the technology by different users around the world
  • The use of open-source software allowed for the quick development and easy adaptation of ODK


What did not work? What were the challenges?: 
  • Managing the system in conjunction with day-to-day research responsibilities
  • Convincing users to overcome the initial high-cost of an Android phone (necessary for the ODK system)


Lessons in Interoperability

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Oct 23, 2009

This post is reposted from the Open Mobile Consortium, a community of mobile technologists and practitioners working to drive open source mobile solutions for more effective and efficient humanitarian relief and global social development.  It is written by Neal Lesh.

One of the Open Mobile Consortium's (OMC) primary goals is to maximize interoperability and data-sharing capabilities among the open-source mobiles technologies so that the whole of our collective effort is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Open Data Kit (ODK)

Posted by yanokwa on Oct 06, 2009
Open Data Kit (ODK) data sheet 11689 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Open Data Kit
Problem or Need: 

Collecting data and delivering information developing regions is hard.

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Open Data Kit is a set of free tools used all over the world to make data collection and information delivery easier.

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a mobile phone
App resides and runs on a server
Is a web-based application/web service
Key Features : 

Open Data Kit primarily provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to:

  • Build a data collection form or survey
  • Collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server
  • Aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats

See http://opendatakit.org/about/tools for a listing of all our tools.

Main Services: 
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Multi-Media Messaging (MMS) or other Multi-Media
2D Barcodes
Voting, Data Collection, Surveys, and Polling
Location-Specific Services and GIS
Information Resources/Information Databases
Stand-alone Application
Display tool in profile: 
A HIV counselor in Kenya scans a patient’s demographic information into ODK Collect.
Tool Maturity: 
Currently deployed
Release Date: 
Program/Code Language: 
Organizations Using the Tool: 
Number of Current End Users: 
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Support Forums: 
Languages supported: 
Handsets/devices supported: 
Primarily Android-based devices, but we do support other Java-based phones.
http://opendatakit.org/about/research http://opendatakit.org/about/press
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
URL for license: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: