Aidex Voices

The app that has reformed humanitarian data collection was developed by cofounders Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck after researching humanitarian situations in Central African Republic, northern Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. KoBoToolbox was recognised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as a useful and effective tools for humanitarian assessment and was formally adapted and adopted for humanitarian users.

From form design to data monitoring, analysis and management, the app is a suite of tools that enables holistic field data collection in challenging environments. Key features include strong safeguards against data loss, a quick and easy form builder, visualisation maps, and offline access. Importantly, KoBoToolbox’s usefulness is in the fact it is a free and open source software, making it accessible for anyone.

The app’s uniqueness is in its speed, accuracy, cost, support and optimisation for humanitarian work. No technical knowledge is required to work it, with enumerators having the ability to be trained within minutes, and it can be rolled out rapidly even in the harshest or most remote situations.

KoBoToolbox’s faith in apps for the sector lies in its numbers. Co-founder Pham says they currently have around three million submissions each month with exponential growth. She explains the purpose of this technology is not to compete, “but rather compliment other technology so as to reduce fragmentations and further advance the overall technology eco-system for humanitarian actions.”

Pham believes the digital revolution is changing how we interact and use information, through enabling us to do things particularly as they pertain to data and communication at a much faster speed which allows us to monitor situations on an unprecedented scale.

She remarks, “I have not used paper and pencil data collection since 2005 and can’t imagine going back to it unless I am forced to.”

This blog is part of the 5 must-have apps series for World Humanitarian Day. Read more here.