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Communication and data collection

Electronic data collection and internet connectivity are fast-evolving fields of technology. The expected connectivity in different areas of the country needs must be considered and appropriate equipment (e.g. phones and SIM cards) for communication within the team and with regional and central supervisors are required.

Electronic data collection


There is a wide range of mobile data collection devices to choose from. The choice of which ones to use will depend on a number of factors, primarily functionality, comfort of use for long periods of time, availability and cost. The Electronic data collection hardware online tool provides a list of factors to consider when selecting the devices as well as typical additional hardware needed per enumerator, team, and Regional supervisor.

The section below on labelling describes the need for easy-to-use scanners and camera settings. The ability to install and use these also needs to be taken into consideration when choosing devices.


The mobile devices must function reliably without loss of data throughout the fieldwork period. Interviewers need to be able to recharge device batteries regularly, and data should be uploaded consistently to back up the information and monitor fieldwork progress.

These actions will require power sources, data storage capacity, and connectivity. Mobile wireless internet devices (similar to hotspots for wireless internet devices) might be needed in areas of low connectivity. The number and power of portable battery packs needed will depend on the anticipated number of days away from a standard power source. It may not be necessary to upload data every day, however this option should be considered in addition to storing a copy of the data on the device and options for data backup. The Survey coordinator will also need access to a computer to review uploaded data and generate monitoring and progress summaries.

Where data are collected electronically, some paper-based versions of the questionnaire should be available to each team in case of hardware malfunction. There may also be areas of a country where carrying a mobile device could be a security risk, in which case paper forms may be preferred.

Paper-Based Data Collection

The main equipment and supply requirements for paper-based data collection are paper, printers and printer ink, a photocopier, clipboards, pens, pencils, erasers, staples and staplers and other basic stationery. Storage containers for blank and completed questionnaires will also be needed, along with filing space with secure storage facilities, and access to computers for data entry. These are listed in the Equipment and supplies list (more complex worksheet) online tool.

Food sample replacement

If food samples (such as salt, sugar or flour) are collected as part of the survey, the household may be offered a replacement of the same type of food. In cases where a quality-assured fortified version of the food is available, for example adequately iodized salt, then the fortified food should be provided as the replacement.

In some surveys, participants may be offered a beverage, depending on the tests being undertaken and the likely duration of their participation. In cases where participants must walk some distance to a mobile or central field laboratory for specimen collection and anthropometry, they may be offered a small snack or beverage at the end of the process.

The costs associated with replacement food or reimbursement items need to be included in the budget. Additionally, all field team members should be aware of the logistics of purchasing, securely storing, transporting, and documenting the distribution of these items to the participants.

Equipment and Supplies List (more complex worksheet)

Detailed spreadsheet enables the user to calculate a rough cost of the supplies and tests needed for a survey