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Akvo: The subsequent technology of information assortment for sustainable improvement

Cisco is proud to assist Akvo, which supplies knowledge providers and tech options to improvement companions within the water, agriculture, and local weather sectors. We all know that knowledge is vital for efficient decision-making, collaboration, and accountability. Akvo helps businesses and governments world wide to enhance their packages to allow them to obtain lasting affect.

This submit comes from Pleasure Ghosh, Akvo’s Tech Lead. Pleasure has been working within the subject of information and know-how for improvement for the previous 10 years, and focuses on constructing knowledge platforms for the agriculture and water sectors.

Joy Ghosh, Akvo’s Tech Lead.
Pleasure Ghosh, Akvo’s Tech Lead.

Right here’s how knowledge is often collected within the improvement sector. Let’s say a venture is about as much as enhance the revenue of smallholder farmers or obtain protected water entry in a sure area. Enumerators are despatched out to gather knowledge on the communities that are impacted by these points. Interventions are then put in place to enhance the outcomes and contribute in the direction of affect. On the finish of this system, enumerators are despatched out as soon as once more to gather knowledge and monitor change. However what if we may complement this tried and examined methodology of information assortment with steady enter from the sphere, reasonably than simply baseline knowledge firstly and the top of a program? And what if, reasonably than knocking on doorways to gather knowledge, neighborhood members had a platform to share data on their challenges and desires. What if we may use knowledge assortment as a software for steady neighborhood engagement?

With assist from the Cisco Basis, we’ve been growing applied sciences to make this a actuality. Unstructured Supplementary Service Information (USSD) and phone-based knowledge assortment is commonly seen as a cost-saving different to subject knowledge assortment — excellent for conditions in which you’ll’t go into the sphere on account of well being or safety emergencies. However this know-how ought to be seen as a complement to in-person subject knowledge assortment, and the advantages go far past diminished prices and safety challenges

A hybrid method to monitoring

At this time, enumerators are despatched out into the sphere to search out respondents from whom to collect knowledge. This conventional methodology of information assortment has clear advantages – enumerators can observe first-hand what’s occurring within the subject, and venture managers obtain complete, high quality datasets. Nonetheless, there are additionally quite a few drawbacks.

In-person knowledge assortment is resource-intensive and due to this fact periodical. The dearth of steady, well timed knowledge implies that typically, interventions are indifferent from the realities on the bottom. Discipline-based knowledge assortment supplies snapshots into the present state of affairs, reasonably than steady suggestions that enables program managers to fill within the context, and modify methods based mostly on proof. Utilizing a hybrid method to knowledge assortment – distant and in individual – may assist to finish the image. Program managers can use distant knowledge assortment to achieve a broad understanding of a particular drawback, after which in-person knowledge assortment to give attention to potential drawback areas. Alternatively, in-field knowledge assortment could be performed at, for instance, annual intervals, after which distant knowledge assortment can fill within the gaps and supply context regularly. This may permit program managers to see change because it happens, permitting for extra well timed responses, focused interventions, and higher outcomes.

In-person knowledge assortment can be a bodily exhausting course of. The sheer logistical challenges could result in enumerators amassing knowledge from 10 folks in a single village and none from the encircling 5, leading to a skewed pattern. With distant knowledge assortment, you might have the potential to exceed your pattern, reaching a a lot wider geographical scope with considerably much less sources.

Lastly, in-person knowledge assortment makes it troublesome to hunt out native change makers in the neighborhood, and brings to the fore questions of information possession. What are the incentives for respondents to present away their time and their knowledge? Does the information nonetheless belong to them? And the way, if in any respect, does the information get fed again into the neighborhood? Improvements in distant knowledge assortment know-how may permit for a extra citizen-centered method.

A GIF from Akvo about remote data collection

Harnessing the facility of distant in Kenya

In Kenya, Akvo created a system for distributing, accessing and responding to surveys through radio and textual content messaging in cooperation with county governments of Kajiado, Laikipia and Kwale, Central FM Kenya Radio, and Africa’s Speaking, an area USSD aggregator. Akvo and Africa’s Speaking collectively produced an Software Programming Interface (API) integration that enables surveys, historically administered by a cell surveying software, to be acquired and accomplished through textual content message. We partnered with Central FM Kenya Radio to determine a schedule for broadcasting USSD codes to listeners, analyzing and decoding knowledge alongside Well being Authority Officers, and distributing survey outcomes.

Radio DJs that host interviews with representatives of Kenya Water for Well being Group acquired knowledge course of coaching after which broadcast the USSD codes to listeners. Every time a survey was introduced, the DJ would clarify that solutions from accomplished surveys can be mechanically despatched to county databases and dwell knowledge visualizations (maps, charts, and graphs) can be up to date. DJs actively distributed survey codes, noticed responses coming-in, up to date dwell knowledge visualization dashboards, interpreted outcomes along with Well being Officers, and communicated up to date data again to the neighborhood concerning two thematic areas: built-in water administration and gender-based violence.

Three radio DJs from Kenya, wearing masks
Radio DJs from Central FM Kenya Radio.

This method permits organizations to ask the neighborhood straight for enter, be it in relation to their water services, healthcare, meals safety, or some other societal situation. This has a number of advantages, together with:

  • Elevating consciousness across the situation at hand by broadcasting it
  • Gathering knowledge at common intervals through broadcast for a fraction of the fee
  • Figuring out people in the neighborhood who care about and actively take part in neighborhood points, as a result of they arrive to you, reasonably than you going to them
  • Introducing incentives for feeding in knowledge constantly and on a well timed foundation (by gamification, for instance)
  • Feeding knowledge straight again to the neighborhood — they’re conscious and concerned in the issue and empowered with alternatives to contribute to the answer

This pilot is considered one of many who we’ve been testing in numerous sectors and contexts with assist from the Cisco Basis, and reveals how conventional knowledge assortment strategies within the improvement sector could be innovated to enhance outcomes. On the time of scripting this weblog we’re in a scaling part, aiming to assist an extra 10 companions (authorities and organizations) this 12 months with crowdsourcing options reminiscent of USSD.

What’s subsequent for the sector

Identical to the change from pen and paper knowledge assortment to smartphone-based knowledge assortment, this evolution will take time and studying. There are quite a few advantages to distant knowledge assortment if utilized in the proper manner and in the proper context, however now we have to be taught which strategies are greatest suited to which contexts, and what the drawbacks and challenges are. Past that, now we have to assume in a different way about how knowledge ought to be collected based mostly on the totally different mediums. For instance, you possibly can’t run the identical survey on USSD as you’ll in an in-person survey as a result of it might be too lengthy and too cumbersome for the respondent. That is the place design pondering comes into play, and program managers take into account what knowledge is required, how  that knowledge is greatest collected, and what obstacles there could also be.

We’re persevering with this work to determine one of the best practices, challenges, and alternatives, with monetary assist and technical recommendation assist from the Cisco Basis.




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