Monitoring water and food security in eastern Indonesia

May 24th, 2016 by Yaw Anokwa

Ken Evans is the project leader of Mine Technology Group at Charles Darwin University. In this guest post, Ken describes his work deploying ODK in Nusa Tenggara Timur.

In the eastern Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) problems of water and food security are chronic and threaten lives and livelihoods. The Province has a monsoonal wet-dry tropical climate, and water resources are limited, with high inter-annual variability. Most of the people of NTT live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Slope failure
Slope mass failure resulting in blockage of the primary irrigation channel. This results in areas downstream having no water for irrigation and growing food. ODK is a useful tool for local farmers to record this information and inform maintenance managers of the need for repair.

As part of an Indonesian and International Research Partnership, Nusa Cendana University (UNDANA) and Charles Darwin University (CDU) trialed ODK as a tool to collect information on maintenance needs in poor and remote irrigated farming areas. Irrigation infrastructure in the areas is in need of regular maintenance to ensure equitable distribution of water thereby eradicating the "hungry season."

CDU and UNDANA staff
CDU researchers Professor Ken Evans and Dr. Monishka Narayan (rear) working with (front left to right) Ibu Jenny Markus, Pak Utma Aspartria and Pak Norman Riwu Kaho from UNDANA to implement ODK for their research.

We found ODK very useful and straightforward to apply and ideal for the planned application in these underserved communities. We hope to continue working in NTT with communities and government using ODK to empower local communities to collect information for the government as a basis for establishing maintenance priorities.

ODK use in African primate conservation

May 17th, 2016 by Yaw Anokwa

Kourtney Stumpe is a volunteer with Children of Conservation and an environment science major at Georgia State University. She learned ODK so that she could develop forms that would be beneficial to the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). In this guest post, Kourtney describes her work deploying ODK at six PASA affiliated organizations in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa.


In 2014, the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) began exploring whether using Open Data Kit to compile and analyze information regarding animals being cared for in its member sanctuaries would be beneficial in identifying trends in illegal trade as well as law enforcement and confiscation.

PASA surveyed its members and found that there was an overwhelming interest in utilizing ODK. Not only would ODK provide each sanctuary with an avenue for more reliable, readily available and easily searchable records, but having the data in this format would allow the sanctuaries to more easily generate reports that are often required for funding and sustainability.

In addition, PASA's ability to compile the data from multiple sanctuaries would allow PASA to more readily identify larger trends and issues in conservation. Unfortunately, there was also a hesitation by the member sanctuaries to commit because of an inability to train staff and the inability to provide the time or manpower necessary to upload their current data into the database.

​In collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, the PASA​ ​set out to introduce ODK project at the PASA Strategic Development Conference in Nairobi in November of 2015.​ ​

In preparation for the Strategic Development Conference, I established a PASA ODK Aggregate server on Google App Engine that would house its member sanctuaries' data. I designed a universal form for the member wildlife centers to record essential details in reference to animal intakes and constructed a presentation that would not only showcase the application but begin to train individuals on how to use it effectively. PASA provided the administrative support to coordinate with those sanctuaries that would be participating in the first phase of the ODK deployment.

Following the Strategic Development Conference, I visited six PASA affiliated organizations in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa. My Phase 1 report, Introducing Advanced Application Technology to African Wildlife Conservation is now online. Read it to find out what we learned when we deployed ODK.

Interested in supporting the work Kourtney is doing? Please donate to her GoFundMe project. Every little bit counts.

Participants of Cardiff University sepsis study find ODK reliable, fast, and easy to use

May 4th, 2016 by Yaw Anokwa

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers at Cardiff University have successfully used Open Data Kit to measure the prevalence of sepsis in Wales over 24 hours.

Researchers show that by combining a reliable Android device, a free open-source data collection framework, a scalable cloud-based server, and a team of 184 medical students, they could deliver a low-cost, highly reliable platform that requires little training or maintenance, providing results immediately on completion of data collection.

For more, read the Developing a digital data collection platform to measure the prevalence of sepsis in Wales paper online.