ODK: Data Collection

ODK is an open-source software designed for data collection, management and storage in resource-limited environments.

About ODK

It allows creating various types of forms that replace traditional paperwork in the process of gathering data. The tool can be used offline, and get synced once a network connection is found. It allows researchers, field teams, and M&E professionals to collect data in remote locations, and in places with limited access to the internet. 

ODK is used globally, mostly by government agencies and social impact organizations, such as WHO, Red Cross, or World Food Programme.

SolDevelo’s role

We’ve been involved in the development of the ODK project since 2016. We’re also providing QA services for all ODK platforms. 

ODK benefits

ODK is a powerful solution that helps researchers across the world comfortably do their job, and collect data in a simple, reliable manner. A rich choice of features and high focus on flexibility make ODK a beneficial choice for professionals in countless different fields.

Accessible and reliable

The offline mode ensures the application stays useful, no matter where the research is conducted. If there is no internet connection, data will be stored, and synced once possible. It increases the solution’s accessibility in resource-limited environments. Being largely independent from the internet connection, ODK is a stable and reliable tool that guarantees the data is kept safely. 

Applicable in different contexts

Due to its universal features, ODK is being used in many different industries, such as public health, global development, crisis response, and climate monitoring. The tool’s simplicity makes it easily applicable to the new contexts.

Supports various types of data

ODK forms can include various types of data, such as photos, GPS locations, skip logic, calculations, external datasets, and multiple languages, allowing more complex and comprehensive research.

Fits all scales

ODK can be used in small research projects as effectively as in large-scale ones. Its flexibility makes the app easily adaptable to the needs of the user.

Saves time

ODK streamlines the processes related to data collection and data analysis. Replacing paperwork with a handy application significantly reduces the time spent on a number of data-related tasks, and increases the efficiency of work. Furthermore, the app is constructed and designed in a user-friendly, intuitive and simple way, making it quick to learn, and easy to use, and helping save a lot of time on onboarding.

Timely data

In some cases, the value of collected data is determined by how up-to-date it is. The time required for collecting and sorting the data on paper oftentimes is so long that by the time the information reaches its destination, it loses all its meaning in face of a dynamically changing situation. ODK quickens the process and allows the researchers to deliver timely data as soon as possible.

Easy reporting

Compiling and organizing data takes a lot of time and effort when done on paper. ODK offers easy reporting options by supporting integrations with other apps – Excel, Power BI, Python, or R – to create real-time dashboards.

Safe from damage

Paper records are vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, especially when data is collected in the field. The results of work can get lost to flood or fire. As a digital solution, ODK prevents such losses from happening. Data is safe from environmental damage even in face of natural disasters.

Open source

The solution is open source, meaning that its source code is publicly available and can be used by anyone for free. It allows users to customize the app to make it suitable for their specific needs. Additionally, ODK is built and supported by an active community of people, willing to help with any issues.

Key features

Forms for data collection

ODK supports multiple types of data, including photos, GPS locations, skip logic, calculations, and external datasets, allowing users to easily collect all the resources they need in any form suitable.

Offline mode

ODK offers a reliable offline mode, allowing the user to comfortably collect data in the field, without worrying about the internet connection. Data is synced automatically once possible.

Web app and mobile app
Web application

ODK is available as both a web and a mobile app so that the user can choose what they prefer. A mobile app is especially suitable for field researchers who work in various locations, since it removes the burden of carrying paper forms with them.

Monitoring work on a map

When collecting data in the field, the user can monitor their work on a map, marking the locations of already filled forms with different colors based on the current status. Status bar displays the total number of saved forms and how many of these are shown on the map.  

Offline maps

The user can display a pre-saved offline layer of a map to use it as a reference in low-connectivity environments.

Easy data export​

Data can be exported to CSV, JSON, and KML files.

Compatible with other apps (Excel, Power BI, Python, R)

To maximize the efficiency of ODK, it can be integrated with other applications that will supplement its work by adding e.g. analysis features to the pipeline.

Sharing settings

Settings can be shared between multiple devices by generating and scanning a QR code.

Use cases

Being a versatile tool, ODK helps researchers from many different fields, making their job easier and more effective. Some of the real-life use case examples include:

Disease surveillance

Digitized health and location data collecting enables quick reactions to disease outbreaks, and more effective monitoring of the situation, even in the areas with low internet connectivity.

Field mapping

Offline mode allows researchers to map the places vulnerable to natural disasters. Replacing paper records with a mobile application reduces the risk of losing the results of work to the elements.

Clinical research

Integration with other apps allows researchers to easily incorporate ODK in their work, where it serves as an organic part of the data collection and analysis process. Data security guaranteed by the app also makes it a good fit for clinical research projects.

Environmental research

The app can be used in the field to collect timely data and allow quick, informed decision-making, without wasting time on additional data checking and organizing.

Household surveys

ODK offers versatile forms creating features that enable survey statisticians to design any types of surveys their clients might need. 

Sanitation research

The app helps to collect and provide data to the engineers working to improve the off-grid sanitation conditions in informal settlements around the world.

Agricultural research

Effective management of resources on a large farm is not only important from the financial perspective, but also from the ecological one. Efficient location of water, food, and other supplies is easier with a tool designed to collect all sorts of data, and has an offline mode available.

Crisis response

Disaster cycle services heavily depend on timely data. Based on the information that is collected in the area stricken by a disaster, the suitable type and scale of help can be organized and sent to the ones who need it. ODK is trusted to be a part of that workflow, and support the humanitarian organizations in saving lives.

Make the most out of your research

Join our satisfied customers and master digital data collection with ODK!


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