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Mobile Data Collection toolbox

3.6 Others key considerations


What are advantages and disadvantages when using MDC?

Advantages are:

  • better data quality;
  • faster data entry;
  • data ready for analysis as soon as uploaded/synchronized;
  • cheaper system if used on regular basis;
  • multi-options relating to survey functionality (images, GPS, languages, etc.);
  • lighter material to carry on the field.

Disadvantages are:

  • requires more training;
  • longer survey preparation;
  • form less visual than paper;
  • fragile technology and costly at first;
  • depends on electricity;
  • mobile phones or tablets may cause security issues if not handled properly;
  • not adapted for qualitative surveys;
  • may be intimidating for survey respondents;
  • inappropriate for certain contexts. In some contexts, electronic devices can be considered intimidating for survey respondents and then foster biases in responses.

You can also refer to section 2.3 When should your resort to MDC?. In reference to the data quality advantages, you can also refer to the question 3.4.9 Does MDC improve my program data quality? of the First Steps with Program Data toolbox.

What internet access do I need? Can I work offline?

Collecting data is performed offline, but the synchronization between the mobiles and the server usually requires an Internet connection. The finalized forms can therefore be sent through a WiFi connection or a phone 3G or 4G network. There are also options to work fully offline (either by submitting data by taking it directly from the phone, or through a local wifi connection without an internet connexion) but these are more technically challenging to set up.

What does a deployment of a form correspond to?

The deployment of a form is the action of making a newly created form available for data entry. This occurs after the form has been fully developed and you are ready to start testing your form in real conditions or collecting data. After deployment, in ODK terminology your form can be downloaded as a “blank form” on external devices to start collecting data. If you cannot see your form on the mobile app (for example), make sure you are connected to the correct account. If you are connected to the correct account, your form is likely still in draft mode, and you still therefore need to deploy it on the server.

Check out the 8 Managing your form and its data section for more informations.

This is dependent on the situation and whether you have access to a technical support team or not. If you are on your own, know that the response to most of the questions can be found online. Here are a few links where it is possible to find a lot of information:

  • You can search this toolbox (for example the XLSForm Cheat Sheet), and the training material available here
  • Reference website regarding XLSForm
  • The support website of your chosen MDC solution, such as the ODK Forum, The KoBoToolbox support forum(note that this is a user support forum, that KoBoToolbox does not support directly, therefore any bug should not be posted there but through the KoBoToolbox platform “chat bot”), SurveyCTO support center, etc.