Data Collection

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Supports Objectives(s) All, Monitoring and Evaluation

Description of Tool Class

Data Collection is the process of gathering information. Data collection is a vital part of peacebuilding, since it allows the collector to make informed decisions.

Data collection can take place through:

  • In-person interviews or recordings
  • Online Surveys
  • SMS Polls
  • IVR Polls
  • Data Scraping

Each of these methods have different uses.

Data Collection in Low Connectivity Environments

In person interviews

Challenges with Paper

In-person interviews have been a common method for collecting information from people for a long time. Traditionally this work has been done with Paper, which, while a valuable technology in many circumstances, comes with some challenges. With paper, there are challenges of:

  • Quality of information - errors in data collection are difficult to detect.
  • Timeliness - when much a lot of data is collected, much time needs to be spent transferring the information to spreadsheets or otherwise processing it.
  • Granularity - limited space to collect detailed information.
  • Veracity - it is possible to forge where the data was taken, and who it was gathered from.

Benefits of Electronic Tools

Electronic in-person survey tools can help to address these challenges. They create a simple electronic interface that allow individuals or teams of interviewers to collect large amounts of granular data and to eliminate the process of entering data from paper forms into some form of consolidated database. In addition, many data collection tools allow the user to verify the location as well as video, audio, and images where the survey is taken.

Examples of in-person survey tools include:

SMS Survey Tools

While the Internet is a valuable tool for collecting data, it is possible to collect information from people without using the internet. Various tools collect information from people using SMS. These tools include:

Remote Data Collection

Often peacebuilders are based at a distance from the community they serve and need to collect information in order to do their work. In these circumstances working with a local partner to conduct in-person interviews is an option - Remote Data Collection provides an alternative mechanism. These tools (sometimes called CATI - Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) allow for the broad dissemination of a survey through Mobile Phones through automated processes.

Pros of Remote Data Collection:

  • Option to reach large numbers of respondents (hundreds or thousands)
  • Relatively low cost - pay per SMS or IVR minute

Cons of Remote Data Collection:

  • Lack of face-to-face interaction
  • Difficult to incentivize completion of long surveys
  • More barriers to the collection of qualitative data

Remote Data Collection Tools:

Crowdsourcing tools like Ushahdi also can be used for remote data collection purposes.

Remote Data Collection Learning Resources:

  • Remote Food Security Monitoring is a free online course provided by mVAM and Leiden University which covers the remote data collection project life cycle, options for remote data collection tools, and questionnaire design.

All Tools in this Tool Class

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