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Mobile Data Collection is Accelerating Economic and Social Development

19 May, 2014

Source: ICT Africa

With over 600 million mobile subscribers, Africa is entering an exciting time for development. Mobile solutions are helping information move from households to service providers and eventually to policy makers. Companies are gaining new business opportunities by adopting mobile technologies to support field work.

Mobile technology makes data sharing faster than paper based data collection and the benefits from this are enormous. Health, agricultural or educational data that is shared and resources allocated according to this data can help boost economies and save lives across the continent. Health data from patients can be collected with images and contextually adapted questions that help to improve the relevance and quality of data. Care providers can access this data from a distance and give accurate health care instructions to local health care workers. In a larger scale policy makers can analyze the data on a national level and allocate medicine and services accordingly. Health data works as a powerful example but the process works as well with agricultural, environmental, educational or infrastructural data.

The affordability of mobile devices has made it possible to reach millions of people that were not accessible before. Mobile data collection and data management solutions allow the information to flow and accelerate the development. Poimapper is one of these solutions. It was designed originally in co-operation with Plan International in Kenya back in 2009. Since then NGO’s, private companies and governmental organizations have collected data using Poimapper in Africa, Asia and Latin America in numerous projects. Plan International has implemented Poimapper mobile data collection in more than twenty countries.

In one example case in Africa, Poimapper is used for the monitoring of maternal care of patients in various countries. A special case is that of pregnant women with HIV who have a high risk for transmitting the disease to the unborn child. So called Mother Buddies visit the pregnant women according to a predefined schedule to monitor their health and give advice. The pregnant women receive SMS reminders from the Poimapper application notifying them of an upcoming visit. Mother buddies update the patient information during the visits. Team leaders, organizations, public officials and the NGO running the operation (Tearfund) monitor and evaluate the progress on a country level.

Solutions need to be scalable, because you never know how many people you need to reach or what kind of data you have to collect. The application has to be also designed in a way that everyone knows how to use it with minimum training.” Poimapper CEO, Pertti Lounamaa, explains.

Mobile devices have a considerable stake in the economic and social development of African countries. Smart phones are entering the market and gaining market share what means that features and applications are more relevant to users and are also easier to use. All this progress will enable successful deployment of mobile data collection and management solutions that radically improve effectiveness and competitiveness.


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