Open Data Kit

Dr Yaw Anokwa will present the Department of Computer Science colloquium with a talk entitled, "Open Data Kit". In this talk, Yaw Anokwa, one of the designers of ODK, will discuss how his doctoral research on building technology for low-income regions motivated the creation of ODK. He will also describe a few of the ODK tools being used at scale and demonstrate how they enable data collection with smart forms on mobile devices.

Open Data Kit (ODK, replaces paper forms with smart forms on a phone or tablet. ODK is great for mobile fieldworkers (e.g., census enumerators, community health workers, and forest monitors) who need to collect data accurately and report results instantly. The free and open-source ODK platform has tens of thousands of users who use it to measure indicators, track performance, and maximize their impact.  Examples include:

Kiva: gathering borrower demographics and repayment information.  

The Carter Center: monitoring elections in young democracies

The Jane Goodall Institute: documenting the health of forests

AMPATH: supporting HIV testing for over half a million people

Besides collecting text and numbers, ODK can be used to take pictures,capture GPS locations, scan barcodes, get signatures, and even play videos. Additionally, ODK forms support branching logic, repeating sections, multiple languages, data encryption, and working offline.


Dr Yaw Anokwa first realized the impact technology could have on the world's underserved while deploying a medical record system in Rwanda.  That experience inspired his Ph.D. work addressing the limitations of paper-based systems using smartphones and "cloud" servers.

Dr. Anokwa founded and runs Nafundi (, a technology company with expertise in creating software for challenging environments (e.g., rural Kenya, war-torn Afghanistan, and post-hurricane New Jersey). He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington. A more detailed biography of Dr. Anokwa
and his curriculum vitae can be found at

Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 13:00

Lecture Theatre 302, Computer Science, Upper Campus, UCT