Mobile Data Collection & Management
View World Cph – a privately held company working with nonprofit organisations around the world.
Develop native Android and iOS mobile apps on web platform to facilitate the transmission and sharing of data gathered in the field.
A data collection & management platform consisting of a web service & mobile apps supporting NGOs in Europe and Africa.
ViewWorld is a small private company with an explicitly social profile and strong partnerships with a number of humanitarian organizations, e.g. the Danish Red Cross, WWF, Grundfos. The company have been collaborating with NGOs and inspiring them to move away from pen-and-paper / Excel-based data collection processes into mobile data monitoring and evaluation of their projects.
Our client’s goal is to provide their customers with flexible and easy-to-deploy/use solutions for gathering and managing data via smartphones and other mobile devices.
ViewWorld were looking for a software-development partner to help them transform their ideas on data collection, transmission and sharing into a functional and practical web and mobile solution. The client intended to redesign a web based reporting system and an Android application as well as to create an iOS mobile app.
In 2012 ViewWorld commissioned Selleo to develop the version 2.0. of their system and, in doing so, work on the following system components:
- an Android client
- an iOS client
- a backbone.js web front-end
- an API back-end in Ruby on Rails
Approach and Process
We joined the Vieworld product team and started the collaboration by delivering technology consulting services on the tech stack and the architecture to be applied to build the SaaS platform and the suite of apps. We also jointly agreed to use an agile / iterative approach to the software solution development.
We very much enjoyed the close relationship established between the ViewWorld product team and the Selleo development team which allowed us to collaborate both effectively and efficiently. In practice, direct collaboration was centred around regular weekly meetings conducted via skype. It is during such meetings that we managed the high-level scope of the project, the lower-level milestone backlogs as well as milestone acceptance activities. We started implementation with the web service and moved on to Android and iOS app development in later projects stages.
Working together as a close-knit team was definitely a factor behind the solution delivered to serve people and organizations in monitoring projects through mobile data collection.
The ViewWorld SaaS platform is meant for NGOs, associations and businesses which are involved in data collection and management. The suite of apps helps organizations to document and publish the results of projects that are based on real world data collection. The data is displayed on the web platform in real time and is instantaneously available for further modelling via desktop software.
The platform consists of a web application as well as native Android and iOS mobile apps. The system enables NGOs and other organizations to:
- foster timely, effective and reliable collection and transfer of information from the field to the decision-makers in the organizations,
- monitor project output,
- get real-time information on project activities and project progress,
- document and report on where and when volunteers were active,
- measure performance indicators,
- aggregate ‘reports’ on web maps,
- save time and improve reporting transparency through easy access to GPS-coordinates and varied data formats (e.g. texts, videos, images, etc.),
- generate statistics on the different types of activities over time and space,
- create more awareness with the public and other stakeholders regarding the work that their organizations deliver.
Modules and Features
Technically, the ViewWorld platform consists of reporter mobile apps, a web console where data can be managed and an API for data access. The data are collected and submitted by means of smartphones, and they are managed in the web console. From the user perspective, the ViewWorld platform consists of three main components:
- the Reporting App, which is used to collect data and save drafts,
- the Web Console, which enables the user to design forms for data gathering projects, add other users and groups and import data from spreadsheets,
- the Feed Service, which can be used for feedbuilding and exporting data to spreadsheets.
Functionally, the platform enables organisations / companies to design custom forms and surveys associated with the places and/or objects the organizations want their officers to report on. The solution can be tailored to fit specific reporting formats – it is possible to build new forms and questionnaires depending on what is required by the client’s customers. Field officers – equipped with mobile devices – can fill in the forms, create reports and submit such reports from mobile devices or from a web interface. The results are available in real time on the ViewWorld Web Console and can be distributed through the ViewWorld Feed Service to web media, online maps or used for further modelling in desktop software. The managers can review the reports submitted by field officers and accept or reject the reports. The main admin can manage the organisation’s accounts while organisation editors can manage their groups and users as well as build dynamic forms.
ViewWorld Cph maintain strong relationships with a number of humanitarian organizations and the NGO community. They have so far delivered their service on projects with such organizations as CARE, WWF, the Danish Civil Protection League, the Danish Red Cross and the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), who rely on the platform to save time and improve, collecting, monitoring, reporting and transparency on some of their projects.
Monitoring multi-stakeholder projects across the world can be immensely challenging, and the results can vary significantly in quality depending on the way data is gathered and managed. One specific challenge was to design and develop a solution which would allow the users to work in remote areas with limited or no internet access. On such logistically demanding humanitarian projects, project managers and/or project coordinators are often not physically present in the field during the entire project execution. They do, however, need to have access to the regularly updated information on progress if they are to manage the project activities well.