UCA News - Issue 107

Date: 19 December 2011
Other languages: Русский язык |

UCA’s Knowledge Management team spearheads new data collection methodology using smart phones

The University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Knowledge Management (KM) team recently implemented the Osh Business Mapping Project (OBMP) spearheading the use of innovative methodologies and affordable technologies to gather and organise information in the region.
 
Using the smart phone for the Osh Business Mapping Project survey, and data collectors keying in information on the move.The project was commissioned by the First MicroCredit Company (FMCC) interested in mapping businesses in the city of Osh in Kyrgyz Republic to support its planning and marketing strategies. The data collection was conducted using smart phones programmed with advanced survey technology and virtualisation. Implemented between August and November 2011, the survey yielded selected data elements specified by FMCC on all businesses in Osh city in an efficient, non-intrusive manner that minimised operational costs and time.
  
The KM team developed the innovative survey design using affordable Android-based smart phones (Samsung Galaxy series) and free open-source software (LimeSurvey). Six teams administered the questionnaire in the city of Osh using the smart phones, which were also programmed to automatically capture geographical locations and mark them on a centralized Google map managed by the KM team in Bishkek.
 
“This methodology may rely on new technology but it makes perfect sense in low resource settings with young populations. Our young teams of enumerators were comfortable with the technology and energetically covered the city of Osh, gathering data efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. The KM team centrally managed the data in Bishkek to ensure quality control” said Emanuele Costa, Head of KM at UCA, who led the team in designing and implementing the survey.
 
A Geographical Information Systems (GIS) map generated using the ArcGIS software, which visualises exact locations surveyed in Osh, and the type of businesses in the area.The Project had strict quality control and quality assurance measures including a control team that monitored data collection sites and ensured that information was correctly entered into the system. A geographical information systems (GIS) expert from UCA’s Research Programme developed advanced quality control tools, such as a web-based control panel to locate and track team members in the field.
 
In less than four months, the Project mapped over 9,500 businesses in Osh, generating data in an accessible format. Work continues to create different GIS map layers and highlight diverse variables, including business type, clients, number of employees and monthly turnover. The data will be used by FMCC to better understand microcredit needs in the city and to strengthen its programmes.
 
“The Osh Business Mapping Project is a good example of how UCA is introducing innovative tools and building local capacity to meet information needs for research and enterprises,” said Dr David Gullette, UCA Research Programme Manager and team member.
 
A Geographical Information Systems (GIS) map generated using the ArcGIS software, which visualises exact locations surveyed in Osh, and the type of businesses in the area.The design and implementation of the OBMP brought together the KM team’s technical resources and multi-disciplinary approach. The team is led by KM Head, Emanuele Costa with project members; Dr Gullette, social anthropologist, Evgeniy Novikov, Software/User Interface Developer, Nargiza Sarkulova, Software Developer, and GIS expert and UCA Senior Research Fellow, Dr Ainura Nazarkulova, who also serves as Director of the Kyrgyz GIS Association and Deputy Director of the Austrian Central Asian Centre for GIScience.
“Bringing together the specialised technology of GIS with the everyday technology of smart phones is an innovation that extends the use of a range of technologies in the region” said Dr Nazarkulova.
 
UCA’s Knowledge Management Unit provides technical support and expertise to UCA’s programmes and partners, supporting UCA’s vision of becoming a regional centre of information and knowledge through the creation of library resources, communication and knowledge databases. A core function of UCA’s KM programme is to coordinate and consolidate existing knowledge, capture new knowledge and enable various stakeholders to share and disseminate information. UCA’s knowledge databases are designed to facilitate access to information and collaborative projects with UCA scholars that can continue to sustain and enhance knowledge resources in Central Asia. An additional goal is to use these knowledge resources to collect and store longitudinal monitoring data to establish critical indicators on economic, social and environmental factors and inform efforts to develop the region. For more information, please contact Emanuele Costa at: emanuele.costa@ucentralasia.org