Pdas for data collection in resource poor settings
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PDAs for Data Collection in Resource-Poor Settings Project HOPE’s experience What is a PDA? PDA = Personal Digital Assistant Basically, a hand-held computer Touch screen – use stylus to operate Weight: 3.8 oz Memory: 64 MB New ones have wireless capacity PDA software for programming

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What is a pda l.jpg
What is a PDA?

  • PDA = Personal Digital Assistant

  • Basically, a hand-held computer

  • Touch screen – use stylus to operate

  • Weight: 3.8 oz

  • Memory: 64 MB

  • New ones have wireless capacity


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PDA software for programming

  • We use the Pocket PC Creation Software

  • http://www.pocketpccreations.com/

  • Many options exist




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How it works

  • Enter data

  • (View data)

  • Upload data from PDA to computer

  • Export to Excel (or other program) for analysis


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Steps to using PDA

  • Develop questionnaire on paper

  • Test questions

  • Thoroughly train staff on use of the PDA, including field test

  • Set up procedures for uploading and backing up data

  • Set up databases or excel calculation sheets to process and analyze the collected data


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Why staff decided to use PDAs

  • Lots of paperwork

  • Keep accurate and accessible records

  • Provide “real-time” data

  • Technology geeks in key places

  • Ruled out other alternatives


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Advantages

  • Savings in money, materials, and time

  • Increased data quality and cleaner data


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Advantages

  • User-friendly and easy to transport

  • Less intimidating to respondents than multi-page paper questionnaires

  • Easy transfer of data to database

  • Not labor intensive

  • Promotes data utilization

  • Environmentally friendly


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Advantages

  • Increases capacity of staff:

    • Technology use

    • Provides the tools they need to make decisions in the field

    • Provides the ability to better manage your project and make real-time decisions

  • Provides an integrated data system which also collects information on the program’s everyday operating activities


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Disadvantages

  • Need human resources to manage and help staff use the PDAs

  • Equipment requires maintenance and is sensitive to damage or possible theft

  • Memory capacity is limited

  • Once the form is designed and linked to the system, changes are difficult


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Disadvantages

  • Data must be downloaded as soon as possible to prevent possible loss of data

  • In rural areas sometimes difficult to get power to charge battery


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Settings

  • Namibia

  • Mozambique


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Settings

  • Nicaragua

  • Guatemala

  • Thailand


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Applications

  • Baseline & final surveys (child survival KPC; OVC)

  • HIV/AIDS prevention surveys

  • Household surveys (economic & health data)

  • Domestic violence surveys

  • Quality assessment checklists

  • Village mapping



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Recommendations

  • Detailed preparation and planning are crucial.

  • The M&E plan as a whole needs to be clearly developed and detailed enough early in the project in order to design the information system.

  • Questionnaire needs to be complete in order to create the screens used in the PDAs to collect information.


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More recommendations

  • Feedback & results to data collectors/field staff/beneficiaries is important (don’t let data get entered into machine never to come out again).

  • Training is essential prior to implementation:

    • On survey questions (using paper)

    • Hands-on with instrument in field

  • Backing up data nightly is critical.


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Still more recommendations

  • Having a technology “champion” at the field level is crucial to sustainability.

  • Having a technology “champion” at HQ is crucial to supporting the field and usually to getting it started.


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Conclusion

Project HOPE has found that PDAs can be an effective tool to help programs collect, manage, and efficiently use programmatic data in a variety of challenging resource-poor settings.


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