[Blog]Getting key information at your fingertips, improving the process of surveying

Jul 28, 2015

“Don’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” 

Albert Einstein.

Data collection is the cornerstone of improving human development. Now, imagine having to collect hundreds if not thousands of key statistics ranging from peoples’ age to income, percentage of child deaths and so on. We then have to manually enter the information into a spread sheet (This is where the errors pop up!). Not to mention the process of locating and finding remote geographical target areas with GPS and cameras. This challenge is even more apparent in Indonesia, a huge archipelago stretching over three time zones with over 520 districts and countless remote pockets. It’s no wonder Einstein encourages innovation to ‘solve our problems’.

Akvo Foundation and UNDP Indonesia have partnered to launch a smartphone application in which users can collect and enter data in a matter of seconds to their mobile phones. Called the Do it Yourself Survey (DIY-SAM), the application also provides multilingual dashboard analysis, geographically referenced data, and consent-based open source data publishing. Thanks to this cutting edge technology, now surveyors can stay in touch with their colleagues to enter key data even in remote areas where connectivity is a luxury. This will allow their program managers to make speedy decisions to solve pressing development problems faced by target communities, based on the data entered by the surveyors.

The model is based on a smartphone application called Akvo Flow, developed by the Netherlands-based Akvo Foundation. Akvo Flow has supported development institutions throughout the world, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.

UNDP Indonesia is embarking on this project after receiving the 2015 Innovation Fund award from UNDP’s regional Asia-Pacific office. Indeed, we’re proud to acknowledge this is a winning application, because it offers quick and easy solutions to address pressing development problems with a minimal margin of error (no more Excel spread sheets!)

Moving forward, DIY-SAM will further develop its bank of queries to include more thematic survey areas for UNDP in Indonesia. The prototyping exercise to deploy and test DIY-SAM is scheduled to start this week and we are planning to deliver the project during the next three months though a series of trainings and testing.

Our first training stop will be in the East Java city of Malang, where we will train a pool of surveyors and put the application to test. Be sure to check back here next month for updates!

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