OpenDataKit: An Open-Source Tool for Mobile Data Collection and Management

Related Kobotoolbox - simple, free and powerful field data collection, aggregation and analysis tool for online/offline survey, field work

OpenDataKit (ODK) is an open-source tool designed for mobile data collection and management, specifically tailored for social development organizations to gather and analyze data in the field. With its comprehensive features and user-friendly interface, ODK provides an efficient solution for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data even in remote locations. As an open-source platform, ODK can be self-hosted, offering users greater control over their data.

Some of the features of OpenDataKit are:

  1. Customizable Forms: Create and design data collection forms to suit your organization’s unique needs.
  2. Offline Data Collection: Collect data on mobile devices even without an internet connection.
  3. Data Management: Store, organize, and manage collected data securely.
  4. Data Visualization: Analyze and visualize data using a variety of chart types and filters.
  5. Integration: Connect ODK with other tools for data analysis, mapping, and reporting.

Features vs. Benefits Table:

Feature Benefit
Customizable Forms Tailor data collection forms to your organization’s specific requirements.
Offline Data Collection Collect data in remote areas without internet connectivity.
Data Management Store and organize collected data securely and efficiently.
Data Visualization Gain insights from data using powerful visualization tools.
Integration Enhance data analysis by connecting ODK with other tools and platforms.

Use Cases for Individuals, Non-Profits, and Social Justice Organizations:

  1. Health Surveys: Conduct health assessments in remote communities to inform public health interventions.
  2. Environmental Data Collection: Monitor environmental changes and collect data on natural resources.
  3. Human Rights Documentation: Collect evidence and document human rights abuses in conflict zones.
  4. Disaster Response: Assess damage and gather data on affected populations for relief efforts.
  5. Community Development Projects: Track progress and gather feedback on development initiatives.

A brief comparison between OpenDataKit (ODK) and Kobo Toolbox


Feature OpenDataKit (ODK) Kobo Toolbox
Form Builder Requires XLSForm standard for form creation Drag-and-drop form builder
Offline Data Collection Yes Yes
Data Management & Storage Yes Yes
Data Visualization Yes Yes
Analysis Yes Yes
Integrations Data analysis, mapping, and reporting tools; APIs ArcGIS, Google Earth, APIs Mapping, Sharing, and Exporting GPS Data — KoboToolbox documentation
Collaboration & Sharing Not built-in; can be achieved through integrations Built-in collaboration and sharing options
Ease of Use Requires technical knowledge for setup and form creation User-friendly, simple setup and configuration
Documentation Extensive documentation available Comprehensive help center and user guides
Pricing Open-source and free to use,paid version Open-source and free to use;
Free server hosting No Yes
Open source Yes Yes
Compatible with other ODK-based tools Yes Yes
Question library No Yes
Integrated data management No Yes
Support for humanitarian use No Yes

Cost Benefit Comparison with Other Popular Service Providers:

Provider Cost Benefits
OpenDataKit Free (open-source) Customizable forms, offline data collection, data management, visualization, integration
Popular Provider 1 $X per month Feature list, ease of use, support, cloud storage
Popular Provider 2 $Y per month Feature list, user experience, integrations, collaboration tools

Getting Started with OpenDataKit:

  1. Visit the OpenDataKit website ( and explore the available tools (ODK Collect, ODK Aggregate, ODK Central).
  2. Choose the appropriate tool for your needs and follow the provided documentation to set up ODK on your server or device.

If you’re technical, you can self-host it for free on your own server. Start with the docs.

  1. Design and create data collection forms using ODK tools.
  2. Deploy the forms to your team’s mobile devices for data collection in the field.
  3. Analyze, visualize, and export collected data for further analysis and reporting.

OpenDataKit offers a powerful, user-friendly platform for individuals, non-profits, and social justice organizations looking to collect, manage, and analyze data in the field. To learn more about OpenDataKit and explore its features, visit

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