Mobile Data Collection

The Hunger Project programs operate in rural and sometimes isolated communities requiring substantial resources and time to collect high quality, accurate information. Though recording and reporting precise data will always require significant investment and consideration, much time is lost transcribing surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions from paper to a computer for analysis, not to mention the cost repercussions for hiring data entry support. Moreover, despite intensive training with enumerators, a considerable percentage of surveys return incomplete, inaccurate, or unusable, reducing the likelihood of achieving statistical significant and, therefore, generalizable results from the study.

To respond to these challenges, The Hunger Project has rapidly scaled our mobile-based data collection for M&E activities. Benefits of mobile data range from enhanced accuracy of information thanks to built-in survey checks and reminders to faster number crunching and review due to seamless uploads from the devices to a database. Three main advantages have surfaced as a result of The Hunger Project’s mobile data collection efforts:

  1. Cost savings: An evaluation using mobile data collection saves nearly $1,000 in data entry and cleaning fees.
  2. Accuracy of information: Built in checks and survey logic prevents enumerators from skipping or providing out-of-the ordinary responses, reducing the number of “unusable surveys”
  3. Time sensitive feedback and review: Eliminating the need for data entry means that study managers are able to quickly review initial data and make decisions about the need to return to the field

A major challenge of implementing mobile data collection is weak or unavailable internet or cellular connections in remote rural areas. The Hunger Project has solved this issue by piloting ThunderPlug®, a device that syncs data from mobile devices to a cloud without using Internet. With the use of ThunderPlug®, high speed Internet or cellular connectivity is no longer a challenge to data collection. ThunderPlug® essentially acts a local area network that will sync data from any assigned mobile device within 50 meters. The data is then stored locally on the ThunderPlug®, freeing space on the mobile devices and compacting the data to allow shorter transmission time of the data to the server once plugged into an Ethernet outlet. Moreover, the ThunderPlug® allows the data to be uploaded to the local cloud system meaning that enumerator teams can view, analyze, and discuss the data collected on a daily basis to make adjustments as needed.

Read about this initiative on our blog: No Internet Connection? No Problem: Collecting Mobile Data in Rural Communities

Digitizing household surveys and other data makes data more accurate, more time-sensitive, easier to access, and faster to use. Moreover, it allows The Hunger Project to more quickly fulfill its commitment to a participatory M&E system, where communities can receive timely presentations and feedback with evaluation results.