ICT4ag2013: Open Data Kit automates data collection for research

absolomon-kihara-ilri article full

Absolomon presents Open Data Kit which ILRI is using for automated data collection.


The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has moved from collecting its research information on paper to collecting the same through smartphones. The research institute utilises the Open Data Kit, which is a tool developed by Google.org, Google’s not-for-profit arm.

Making a presentation during the ongoing ICT for Agriculture conference in Kigali, Absolomon Kihara from ILRI said that before smartphones, researches had to go out in the field, collect sample data,  come back to the office, analyse the data, then go back to the field to finish up their research.

With the smartphone, the researchers can customise their inputs to enforce the integrity of collected data. Kihara says that the researchers can also view data being collected in the field in realtime,  and can choose to modify their forms and push that to the researchers in the field.

Another advantage here is that data collected is immediately available for analysis - a process that previously took 3 to 5 months when done on pen and paper.

Open Data Kit’s frontend is available as an app for Android - the forms are customisable through a back end which is then pushed to the app. A separate web application aggregates data collected from the app. When no data connectivity is available,  information collected is saved on the phone and uploaded when connectivity is available.

Also presented at the conference was Mendeley, a web based and desktop application targeted at researchers. Mendeley allows researchers to track their research and also to share and collaborate on research.

Author: Dennis Mbuvi

Published in: cio.co.ke