October 2013: Using Mobile Phone Technology to Improve Monitoring and Service Delivery


Cowater is now using Open Data Kit (ODK) technology, an open-source set of applications which can be used to create and manage data collection systems for smartphones.

Using ODK, one can create questionnaire forms to be installed on a smartphone for teams of surveyors in the field to collect data. The data is then sent to a server to aggregate the collected data in a table format as well as visualize and map it as needed. This new type of data collection offers many benefits over traditional methods of conducting surveys including: integrated data entry (automatically formatted text, photos, multiple choice answers, GPS coordinates, etc.), easy data management, and cost effectiveness.

Using ODK will strengthen the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of our projects and studies around the world. The platform has already been piloted by Cowater’s Water, Sanitation and Environment Group (WSE) in Lesotho for environmental monitoring of construction sites and in Ghana to complement traditional household survey techniques for water and sanitation assessments in low-income urban communities. ODK could also be applied to other fields, including in the management and tracking of audit teams in the field, microfinance, or monitoring and evaluation components of large scale multi-million dollar contracts. These innovative tools enable Cowater to be on the cutting edge when providing solutions and services tailored to the needs of its clients worldwide.

− Maxim Fortin, B.Eng. – Project Engineering Officer, Water, Sanitation and Environment Group