The Web Foundation report on the state of the art in multi-channel data collection is now available. It is a deliverable of our mobile data collection project, funded by the Hewlett Foundation. The study reviews the possible use-cases of mobile data collection, classifying them into a taxonomy of scenarios (eg, on-the-field survey with dedicated software running on smart phones, or opinion poll where respondents call a given phone number).
The above mentioned taxonomy is contrasted with the current range of existing software, to find that very little of it is supported: most of the existing applications focus on a very small number of use-cases but do not consider the bigger picture of mobile data collection. Software that supports more than one use-case is even rarer. This is an impediment to data gathering initiatives where those scenarios are not applicable (eg, if the initiator cannot afford deploying smart phones).
The second part of the report offers advice on improving existing applications or creating new ones in order to solve that situation. We also present a prototype of a software application that illustrates our recommendations.
A great number of people have contributed in this report, either through their participation to our workshop on Mobile and Web Technologies in Social and Economic Development or through personal communication with the report authors. We would like to thank them, as well as the Hewlett Foundation for their support.
Our multi-channel data collection project goes on as described in its work plan. We are currently looking for a funder for the next steps. Comments on the report are most welcome, and we encourage readers to circulate it as widely as possible.