THE USE OF ICT IN DATA COLLECTION

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was in important focus of this project as it began with the hypothesis that, while ICT is an enabler to achieve broader objectives, it can allow for greater access to rural and underserved communities who are difficult to access. This project focused on three major ICT components: software, voice, and internet enabled tablets being used in the field. For paralegals operating as enumerators who asked citizens survey questionnaires face-to-face, instead of using the traditional survey model of pen-and-paper interviews, our respondents’ answers were logged into mobile software installed on internet-capable tablets by agents in the field. In a similar manner, call center operators called citizens from LAF offices in Kigali to ask the same questionnaire and logged replies via computer hardware and data collection software. The answers were then instantaneously uploaded onto our central server for review, storage and analysis using data management software.

An ICT software developer was enlisted to design and create a Contact Record Management (CRM) system using JAVASCRIPT, HTML and PHP. The software was developed specifically to be used on this project and was customized to be able to accommodate data collection forms that could be uploaded and adjusted when necessary. The software is hosted on a dedicated MTN server which is password protected and only available to LAF. This CRM system is used to maintain a database of the clients who have been served by LAF and the 10 implementing members.

A telecommunication system was also developed specifically for the project. The on-site call centerusing outgoing voice calling from the call center has been very effective. The call center was set-up using LAN connected phones, computers and wired headsets. Call center operators manually enter the survey responses into the Mobile Data Studio (MDS)software and download the data as an excel spreadsheet. LAF has installed a firewalled server at our offices onto which the client data is stored. The data is secure and confidential, and backed up on the servers on a regular basis. LAF also set up a power backup to ensure that the information is always accessible and secure.

Samsung tablets were purchased to be used by the enumerators in the field. Data from the field enumerators is collected using Survey CTO and stored on a secure cloud server. The soft copies of the client data are downloaded and stored at LAF. This methodology was highly appropriate as it accounted for illiteracy among the respondents and ensured that an enumerator was able to explain any questions respondents did not understand.

Additionally, the enumerators in the 30 districts were trained in all relevant functions and applications of the tablets, including: how to run the questionnaire on the tablet; how to navigate through the questionnaire; how to correct responses; how to save incomplete questionnaires; and, how to upload results, whether immediately or later when an internet connection could be obtained. The enumerators were also trained in basic troubleshooting for the tablets and survey technology so that they could mitigate any problems arising in the field.

Enumerators at the call center in Kigali were trained in all relevant functions and applications of the MDS software.Staff at LAF in Kigali supervise the enumerators and check each completed questionnaire for accuracy. The staff are also able to view all data coming from the field in real-time, and assess and correct errors immediately and electronically, where possible.

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