Paper Data Collection: An Environmental Disaster

Joel Selanikio ON 19 August 2013

The initial motivation behind developing the Magpi mobile data collection system was to increase the speed with which data could be collected and analyzed for public health. I’ve come to understand, though, that inefficiency is not the only problem with the paper-based data collection that Magpi is designed to replace: paper-based data is an environmental nightmare.  Frequently hundreds of thousands or even millions of sheets of office paper are used (then, typically, warehoused or just discarded) for just one field survey. Imagine just one single survey of 5000 households involving…

Global development: where “free” means “expensive”

Joel Selanikio ON 29 May 2013

  In global development, I often hear people talking about “free” technology, particularly free software.  Well, as part of the team that has created Magpi, I’m a great believer in free software.  But my definition of free — “doesn’t cost any money to use” —  seems to be very different from the definition used in global development discussions.  Which is odd since “free” seems like a pretty basic concept. So what part of “free” doesn’t global development understand?  As it turns out, quite a lot — because international development consultants…

Why’s mHealth Stuck in 1771? Magpi, Disruptive Innovation, and ICT4D

Joel Selanikio ON 08 April 2013

Most of the money in mHealth and ICT4d gets spent on technology consultants and programmers, making most mHealth technology too expensive for most programs that need it. DataDyne’s Magpi mobile data collection system is a great example of “disruptive innovation” that is changing this model: by eliminating the need for programmers and tech consultants (and their salaries, per diem and travel) it is making mobile data collection affordable for ALL programs.


Magpi plus Ushahidi’s SMSSync makes setting up local SMS data collection super-easy!

Joel Selanikio ON 25 March 2013

We’ve had the ability to do SMS data entry within our Magpi mobile data collection system for a couple years now.  By “SMS data entry” I mean the ability to send simple data to Magpi from any phone at all, even very cheap phones, by means of the built-in SMS capabilities of the phone, and without using the Magpi mobile app. As I highlighted in my recent TEDx talk, this is extremely useful if you have a group of people, like community health workers or drug supply workers, that already have basic phones:…