If you are looking for an example of how mobile technology is being used to make a positive impact on society, look no further than Nokia Data Gathering.
Many organisations, such charities and NGOs, are dependent upon the collection and analysis of information from real people in real communities.
Where previously this might have involved carrying a heavy laptop or filling out paper forms before transporting the data back to the office to be inputted on a computer, Nokia Data Gathering has brought the process into the 21st century.
How does it work?
An organisation creates the survey or questionnaire on the Nokia Data Gathering server. This is then sent to the mobile phones in the field, where the data can be easily captured.
The data is sent back to the server, where the information can be analysed, mapped or exported.
The benefits are manifold. It makes gathering data in even the most remote areas quicker, more accurate and more cost-effective.
Windows Phone Client
Having revolutionised field-based data collection, Nokia Data Gathering has recently been given an update of its own.
Most significantly, it is now available for the first time on Windows Phone devices. It has a simple and elegant user interface and the assisted GPS functionality even captures location data when indoors.
The existing java app, such as for Series 40 devices, has also been given a update.
In addition, the server has been completely redesigned using the latest web technologies, such as HTML5.
The continued development of Nokia Data Gathering was highlighted in July when it featured as the project of the month on the Nokia Developers blog.
Nokia Data Gathering was developed in Brazil, where a department of the state health ministry called the Health Vigilance Foundation (FVS) started monitoring the spread of Dengue Fever.
FVS used Nokia Data Gathering to conduct household surveys, interview local populations and monitor stagnant water, which would help the foundation staff understand mosquito breeding patterns.
Following an intensive campaign of data collection, the Health Vigilance Foundation saw a decline in reported cases of Dengue Fever by 90% between 2008 and 2009.
Other organisations using Nokia Data Gathering include:
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in East Africa to help reduce the risk of drought and other natural disasters
- World Vision Indonesia to monitor and improve care for sponsored children
- The Finnish Natural Heritage Service, Metsähallitus, to save and protect the endangered Lake Saimaa ringed seal
Altogether, there are around 200 organisations that are known to be using Nokia Data Gathering. There may be many more that have downloaded and are using the open source software independently – see the Nokia Data Gathering Wiki. All organisations use the tool for free.
Making a positive impact
Kulsoom Ally, Nokia’s senior manager, Sustainability, for Latin America, told Conversations:
“Nokia Data Gathering is not a consumer tool in its current form but it is an organisational enabler. It helps organisations that are working on social development like NGOs and national governments,” she says.
“Nokia Data Gathering revolutionises or at the very least dramatically improves the data collection business.”
This assertion is backed up by many of the organisations that are using it.
“Nokia Data Gathering is one of the most convenient and cost-effective tools for collecting data from remote areas,” said Bernard O. Mwesigwa, programme officer for FAO in Uganda.
Last year, Nokia Data Gathering also won a Justmeans Social Innovation Award in the “Philanthropy: Most Strategic Use of Philanthropic Funds” category. These awards are given to companies that are driving sustainability and social innovation.
Kulsoom says she is often asked why Nokia are involved in projects like data gathering.
“This is part of our Corporate Social Investment. The idea is that we focus on using our expertise in mobile technologies to create tools that would benefit social development.”
“We believe that, apart from the positive impact of mobile technology in general, Nokia also has a responsibility to invest in and make a positive impact on society.”