Data Collection Apps
When a system is collecting data, there is often a form to complete that defines what type of data to collect. While paper forms are still an acceptable method for collecting asset data, technology has made data collection much easier to capture without the need for follow up data entry into a software program. There are dozens of form builders available at little or no cost. A tool designed specifically for data collection will allow for complex data collection and can be used offline. These data collection applications will allow the collection of photos and videos, GPS locations, and other important asset information on any compatible device. The data captured by these apps can be exported to allow for syncing with other software or to create a report. (mapping, inventory)
Selecting a data collection app
There are many options when choosing a data collection application. Choosing the right app can save a system time and money, and it can help capture the right data at the right time to help make the best decisions for the system.
The features within data collection apps can vary widely including compatibility, connectivity requirements, data security protocols, and processes for data export. They can include setting minimum and maximum parameters to increase data quality, as well as drop-down menus to simplify data entry and ensure consistency. The apps may also have options that allow a system to collect GPS coordinates, photographs and videos.
Questions to consider when selecting an app include:
- What will the data be used for?
- What kind of analysis are you doing?
- Where are you storing the data?
- What level of resources (staff skill, budget) do you have?
- Where is your data coming from?
- What hardware or software will be needed to use the data collection app?
This guide from “Principles for Digital Development” is useful.