Talk:Low bandwidth online survey tools

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See the original thread of this E-Discussion on D-Groups: part 1 , part 2

Richard Labelle, 2009/03/12

Dear all,

I am working from a location in West Africa with low bandwidth. We have undertaken an egov readiness survey and interviewed over 800 civil servants using a paper based questionnaire. Several survey teams have traveled across the country to administer the questionnaire.

I would have preferred using SurveyMonkey to do the analysis (using SM for the actual survey would not have worked as most the people to be surveyed have limited access to PCs and the Internet). Instead, we are using CSPro for offline data entry and SPSS for data analysis because we don't have the bandwidth for entering data using SM. CSPro is freely available it appears and was developed by USAID with the assistance of the US Census Bureau and others.

While SPSS is very powerful, the version of the data entry front end CSPro requires coding and is not vey user friendly and it is prone to data entry errors. Working with this combination is very laborious. We have developed a SM based entry system and while entry was easier to do that CSPro, the Internet connection was not realiable enough for us to use SM.

I know that SurveyMonkey does not have an offline module that could allow data entry and a "batched" up load procedure. Are there any other alternatives that could be have been considered here? Do any of the other online survey tools allow for offline data entry on several PCs, followed by upload and analysis?

Would anyone have an alternative to using CSPro or is it just a version problem?

Any suggestions for using electronic and online survey tools in low bandwidth situations would be greatly appreciated and will be shared with local counterparts.

Grant Ballard-Tremeer, 2009/03/12

Dear Richard

I was also going to suggest Google Spreadsheet with the offline mode. We've found it reliable. If you have MS Access that can also fairly easily be set up for this type of data entry.

Otherwise our monitoring software EcoTrack has been designed especially for offline use with synchronisation when you have a connection. It is a monitoring planning and management system (therefore much more than a data entry system, but includes the filling in of survey forms). Since the software usually comes along with our consulting services (which support the development and implementation of a full monitoring system) we would generally need to help you set up the survey and that might not be cost effective if you already have carried out the survey and just need to enter data.

You can take a look at it here: www.ecoharmony.com/EcoTrack

Have you considered outsourcing data entry (eg. to India)? DHL the package to a specialist company and let them digitise your surveys. It might be cost effective.

Nancy White, 2009/03/12

Richard, this is not quite what you were seeking, and I'm not sure how long the survey is and what kind of data you are collecting, but there are now mobile phone survey instruments. (also some great articles on mobile data collections

Google apps - particularly their spreadsheet, now has an offline/online sync feature, but I have not tested it and somehow I'm not sure it is reliable enough for what you are doing. But they do have a survey form option on it so it might be worth a small test.