Thursday, 7 May 2015

That's MAD!

A few weeks ago, ACIAR’s Canberra office played host to a number of partners from Indonesia and Burma (Myanmar) to participate and provide feedback in the Mobile Acquired Data (MAD) small research activity (SRA) we are engaged in.

Source: agricultures network

The MAD SRA aims to assess existing products mobile software packages in their ability to capture data in the field providing quicker and better quality data for researchers and project teams. The greatest benefit this technology has to offer is to researchers and field staff whose current job using paper systems requires the additional step of entering in the data to a computer, which may be a number of days or even weeks after the data is collected. This gives rise for the opportunity of additional mistakes to be made as this may not be same person who collected the data.

MAD technology will provide research teams a central platform which data can be directly uploaded to in a digital and real-time fashion. This technology also has the ability to scan livestock RFID tags, give GPS location, capture & annotate videos and photographs, and play audio files. It will not only benefit the research teams but it will also allow ACIAR to monitor and evaluate projects it has invested in with faster access to project data and information.

A farmer using his phone. Source: ICRISAT

The workshop held earlier this month presented the desktop analysis of these technologies by Stuart Higgins of Collings Higgins Consulting (a private firm based in Indonesia) and Tomohiro Hamakawa from Kopernik (an NGO aimed at sourcing, connecting and reinvesting the best technology for the developing world) to ACIAR. The findings of the workshop narrowed down the list of mobile applications to two- CommCare and SurveyCTO.

The pilot, to be run in Indonesia, is in its final stages of design and will assess the technology on the ground. The findings from this will feed into a complementary pilot in Burma (Myanmar) aiming to assess the analytical capability of the software and look at how this technology will benefit project teams.

By Jack Hetherington, Social Science and Economics Cluster, ACIAR