ODK Collect is an Android data collection app used for collecting structured data. The app uses an open data standard which means it can be used with various databases (for example ODK, KoboToolbox, or Apollo). Administrators set up a form or questionnaire in the database using question types such as multiple-choice, open-ended, image, or geolocation. Users then download the app, connect with the database by inputting their credentials and database’s url, and are then able to download copies of the forms from the database. They can then fill these forms out, edit them, and when completed submit them back to the database where they can be counted and analyzed.
ODK Collect is designed for groups looking to do data collection using mobile devices. Rather than trying to build an app from scratch, ODK Collect is compatible with many existing database, or a custom database can easily be built to connect with ODK Collect using its open data standard. A wide variety of civic or political groups will want to be collecting data for purposes such as to inform their mission or strategy, or to conduct research that they can share publicly or with the government. ODK Collect’s flexibility and ease of use makes it a good choice for many organizations, including ones that do not want to have to deal with a complicated technical tool
ODK Collect allows for data collection at scale using an easy-to-use mobile app interface. The data is then sent to a database where program managers can view, clean, and analyze the data in real-time. This provides much faster and more efficient data analysis programs compared to methodologies that rely solely on tallying paper forms.
ODK Collect is designed for more complex data collection efforts compared to a simpler tool like Google Forms. In addition to connecting to more advanced databases, it also allows for a wide variety of data submission including photos and location coordinates pulled directly from a mobile device. The application is designed to work offline, where data can be submitted once internet connectivity returns. Note the ODK Collect is only available for Android phon
ODK Collect is fully free to download from the Android Play Store. Note that the database that it is paired with could incur costs.
Technical Requirements/ Capacity
ODK collect is fairly simple to use, though it will take some time to become familiar with how the application works, and some time should be budgeted in particular with linking it with the database. For those who will just be submitting data using the app, it requires some training to get used to, most users with familiarity with smartphone apps should be able to learn how to use it.
Various guides on the tool and setup are available from here. It is not backed by a commercial company, and so does not have a company providing support.
The application is maintained and designed to be fairly secure. However it is possible for anyone who knows the database URL to see a copy of the questionnaire being submitted, so it is not recommended for highly sensitive contexts where the data collection effort is meant to be secretive.
ODK Collect is available in over 40 different languages
Use Case/ Case Study
ODK Collect has been paired with Apollo for use in data collection efforts such as surveying operations by NDI in Serbia. Given that at the time there was no mobile version of Apollo to submit data with, ODK Collect was able to fill the gap. The NDI staff was able to create the questionnaires within Apollo as they usually did. Users were able to download the ODK Collect app, input the Apollo URL and their login information, and the forms were immediately available for them to fill out. The interface was straightforward and it made it easy for them to quickly fill out and submit their data. The offline functionality of the app also made it ideal for when they were collecting data in places without cell reception.