Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Introducing the Humanitarian Data Toolkit: components and workflows

We have been blogging and talking about our Humanitarian Data Toolkit for the past two weeks. Let us now introduce you to the actual kit.

Our main idea behind building this kit was ensuring that the necessary equipment was portable and easily shipped into an emergency situation. In addition to this, we wanted to make sure that the kit could be up and running in a place with little or no electricity.

For these reasons, our kit is actually composed of two cases: one is a pelican case with the actual kit in it, while the other case is a solar panel to power the entire system. 

The hardware:


 The kit is composed of the following parts:

  • A Lenovo Thinkpad X230 with a 9 Cell ThinkPad Battery X44++ and an extra 6 Cell Battery. Together, these two batteries allow the computer to work for a total of 24 consecutive hours. This means that the computer will last around 4 working days (for 8 hours per day) without needing to be recharged. The computer acts as a server and hosts the FormHub software. In addition, the computer has a remote desktop that allows the FormHub team to troubleshoot from Nairobi if any problems arise on the ground.  This relies on a working Internet connection. 
  • A Ubiquiti Networks PICO2 2.4GHz 802.11bg, which allows us to create a Wi-Fi connection to connect mobile phones to the local server to download and upload surveys.
  • A ScanSnap S1300i, which is one of the smallest multi-page double-sided scanners on the market. The Scanner is powered both via electricity and via USB. The average time to scan a ten-page document is 2.5 minutes.
  • 20 Samsung Pocket Android phones with a 2.8" multitouch screen. The phones all have Wi-Fi capability and the latest ODK Collect application installed. These phones are relatively cheap ($110) at the expense of GPS capabilities and smaller screen size. For an additional $100 per phone, it is possible to substitute a phone with a 3.4" or 3.8" screen that makes filling surveys on the ODSK application easier.
  • 2 Power strips, adaptable to different power sockets in different countries, and also provided with a USB recharger. Together, the two strips can recharge 10 phones simultaneously.
  • Two Multi USB ports of 4 USB ports each. This allows for 8 phones to be recharged via a computer, or via the USB port from the power strips.
  • 2 Ethernet cables measuring 5 and 10 meters in length. The cables connect with the Ubiquiti Networks PICO2 to create the Wi-Fi network.  Depending on where the network is created and where the power source is located, one can use the 5m or 10m cable.
  • The Paper surveys.  The kit is designed to digitize both paper forms and mobile forms.  Printed paper surveys allow enumerators to decide on a case by case basis whether they should use phones or use paper.
  • A Powerenz Lipo 32, which is a 50-watt foldable solar panel. The solar panel can recharge 2 computers, the scanner, and the Wi-Fi Network for a total of 3 days (8 hours per day). The panel takes 2 full days (8 hours each) to recharge under the sun, and 5 hours to recharge attached to a power source. The solar panel is provided with an extra battery, and comes with an AC port, a light, and 2 USB ports.

So how does the kit work, and how do Captricity, FormHub and ODK come into place?

Here is a basic diagram depicting how the phone survey system works:



Should you use paper forms, here is how the digitization works:

NOTE: Captricity is an online system, so uploading forms into the software can only happen once the computer is connected to the internet. 

Global Issues: 
Tools Used: