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Advantages of electronic data collection in comparison to paper-based collection


Open Data Kit allows for you to transition your data collection efforts from a paper-based data collection (PDC) method to an electronic data collection (EDC) method. Collecting electronically comes with many benefits to users.

Question Types: Unlike the limited type of questions you can ask via a paper-based survey, EDC allows for you to capture data types like GPS location, photos, video, and audio. Using EDC also allows for you to perform calculations on responses, instead of manual calculations based on PDC responses.

Data Entry: The data from electronic surveys is instantly digitized, significantly reducing errors that may occur when paper-based surveys are manually entered into a computer.

Quality Control: Instead of finding errors after the data collection period, EDC allows for you to build in logical checks and pre-fillable answers, which can reduce the number of errors in the data at the collection site. Further, electronic data collection allows for you to implement skip logic to only ask participants relevant questions. On a paper survey, data collectors will have to manually omit questions that are not relevant to the sampled groups.

Time to Data: Manually inputting data from PDC can take months, using EDC allows for you to see the data as soon as it is uploaded to a server.

Financial: By collecting data electronically, your company could also save the money. Printing quantities of surveys can incur significant expense, along with the need for hiring staff to manually collect and input the data into a computer.

Safety: Carrying large quantities of paper surveys may pose security risks to your collectors, as they can be easily identified and targeted as individuals that may have data others want to obtain or destroy. Using electronic devices minimizes the risk of the data being stolen, and also protects survey collectors from being easily identified.

Network Connectivity: By using ODK or any ODK-based app, you can collect data using an Android device without being connected to the internet. This allows for you to conduct field surveys without worrying about losing the data you collected. Once you return to an area with internet connectivity, you can upload your data to a secure server. We will explore this topic in-depth in the ODK Briefcase section of this knowledge base.

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