COVID-19 Data Collection: How Can Data Help People?


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In these turbulent times effective and flexible tools for COVID-19 data collection are invaluable. It has been two years since the global pandemic started, but our fight is still not over. It is especially difficult in developing countries, where the flow of information is constricted by, among other reasons, no access to the internet. Without the ability to easily collect data on infections, it is impossible to prevent them from spreading. In order to fight COVID-19 in such areas, a smart solution was needed.

We invite you to read this article and find out how Open Data Kit and SolDevelo used their skills and resources to help dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks around the world, and save as many lives as possible.

Open Data Kit (ODK)

covid-19 data collection

The Open Data Kit is an open-source toolkit dedicated to collecting, aggregating, managing and using data in resource-constrained environments. It allows collecting data offline, and sending them when an internet connection is available. 

ODK consists of many tools. Some of the most important are:

  • ODK Collect – an Android app that replaces paper-based forms;
  • ODK Central – a modern server with a RESTful API;
  • ODK Build – a drag-and-drop form designer;
  • ODK Briefcase – a desktop tool that pulls and exports data from Collects.

This project is mostly used by governments and charity organizations in developing countries. The Open Data Kit suite of tools helps social good projects collect critical data even in the most challenging environments.

The mentioned ODK Collect tool is the core application of all ODK projects. This tool was created for Android users and allows them to fill out an electronic form instead of a paper one. It is available to download from, for instance, Google Play. In a world full of technology we can make good use of it to reach answers from the farthermost audience. The application was created to work well without a continuous internet connection.

covid-19 data collection

The form of the survey can be customized by its creator. The ODK Collect app gathers survey-based data and supports location, images, audio, and videos, barcodes, signatures, multiple-choice, or numeric answers. It is also possible to collect data from another app. ODK Collect is applicable in many fields – anywhere you need. It was used, for example, to digitize natural surveys for better nature experience, to collect descriptions of autopsies that help track global deaths,and to manage the migration crisis in Greece.

COVID-19 Data Collection: ODK and SolDevelo joining forces to fight pandemic

This time, ODK Collect was used to help fight with the world crisis which we have been facing for the last two years: the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. 

Inspired by the World Health Organization, Open Data Kit teams digitized WHO’s Minimum Data Set Report Form which is the interim report for confirmed and probable cases. This electronic form is freely available for anyone to use in ODK. 

covid-19 data collection

The Minimum Data Set Report asks for details of the user’ health: if the patient has symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, etc. Additionally, the application asks if the date of the first occurring symptoms is known.

covid-19 data collection

The next clinical information asked by the application is if there was a respiratory sample collected, and if yes – when and what type it was. The ODK Collect application is equipped with a calendar that easily allows pointing to the exact date you want to.

Another piece of the information collected by The Minimum Data Set Report is whether there was an intake of a baseline serum, and when it happened.

SolDevelo on the mission to save lives

The Minimum Data Set Report was the ODK team initiative – it wasn’t commissioned by any client or a third party and is a step forward in a fight with the coronavirus threat.

You can get the form here: WHO COVID-19 Minimum Reporting Form.

The need for such a questionnaire is obvious, when you look at the huge number of users – in the first few weeks after launching the project, the application has already accumulated over 300 thousand users.

The ODK Collect app is really simple and intuitive, but in case there is some help needed, Nafudi, an organization that gave birth to ODK, has declared to support who requires advice in going through the application, especially in contact tracing, decision support, community education, strategic mapping, and case management. If you need Nafudi’s help, contact them here.

The real-life case regarding using ODK Collect happened in the Philippines, where several patients died waiting for COVID-19 test results. After this tragedy, preventive actions were taken. People at a higher risk of being infected were quarantined and hospitalized. All reported PUI (Patient Under Investigation) and PUM (Persons Under Monitoring) data were based on the agency’s algorithm, stored and encoded through Open Data Kit. You can read the whole story in this article.

SolDevelo has always declared that it really cares about the good of other communities, so our biggest pride is when our solutions find their right place – where they are the most needed. In these tough times, where any help worths its weight in gold, we are happy to be a part of the team of fighters with the coronavirus.

Curious for more?

Further information about the Open Data Kit project: ODK Convening 2019
Previous case study on ODK: VillageReach: Reporting App For Patients With Tuberculosis

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