Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open-source set of tools (including ODK Collect and ODK Aggregate) that help organisations create and manage mobile data collection solutions. It enables users to:
- build a data collection form or survey;
- collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server; and
- aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats.
ODK is being used to create socio-economic and health surveys with GPS locations and images, to create decision support for clinicians, and to build multimedia-rich natural resource mapping tools. It has been used in various community-based forest monitoring initiatives such as the CMRV project in North Rupununi, Guyana.
- Open source
- ODK Collect uses an Android platform, meaning it can easily be adapted in areas where mobile phone use is spreading. ODK Collect saves data to phone so it can be accessed without internet connectivity.
- Data can then be sent to a server, ODK Aggregate, allowing for remote oversight of the collection process if mobile internet is available.
- ODK enables use of a variety of data types, allowing users to attach GPS points, photos and videos to surveys.
- ODK can easily manage a large volume of data.
- The intuitive interface is well-fitted to forest monitoring, requiring minimal training, although it is not well adapted for use by illiterate people.
- Phones can use mobile internet, enabling constant connectivity between ODK Collect and ODK Aggregate if mobile internet is available.
- Placing information on server enables faster analysis of data, and facilitates role of supporting organisations
- In widespread use, so it has a large support community for troubleshooting.
- The reliance on Android smartphones can bring various disadvantages (described here) such as a short battery life, power to charge them, and internet connectivity for transferring data.
- ODK Aggregate’s data analysis capability is limited. Its collection forms are designed primarily for question and answer surveys. When this data is exported into programmes such as Microsoft Excel or R Statistics, its format can make analysis time consuming.
- In remote forest regions, mobile internet is likely to be either unavailable or too expensive to be practical, so real-time oversight of the collection process is unlikely.
- Designed primarily for question and answer surveys, rather than for forest monitoring and mapping.
- The remote monitoring facility may not be suitable for independent forest monitoring programmes.
- Lack of signal in rural areas can interfere with communication between program and server.
Watch these video tutorials to learn how to use ODK forms for monitoring.