Populi.net: a mobile phone-based research platform

April 11, 2008

Now this is what I am talking about: A mobile phone based API for doing things like managing quantitative research projects. Supports a bazillion types of phones. Developed by a South African company. You own your own data. Sounds like a brilliant new project and I look forward to hearing more about it.

The platform was developed for Africa, with all of the barriers that normally come to mind: types of phones used, bandwidth availability and user patterns.Erik Hersman

Now the exciting part is that this isn't just a single application, but rather a platform for application development; that's Populi.net.

Then there is Mobile Researcher(what I think is the first and only app thus far developed for it). Mobile Researcher sounds itself really amazingly cool — you develop surveys on the web and then anyone can take them with their cellphones. They've got an interesting case study up on the web featuring the South African Medical Research Council.

Quoting directly from their case study, it's obvious that there are some exciting ideas going on — I hope to see some further news that reinforces these findings (the only thing that makes me wary is that they have no pricing information, and no screen shots of the survey builder interface):

  • Low cost Nokia 2626 handsets were successfully used by field workers to conduct surveys. Several field workers had never even sent an SMS before.
  • <li>On average, over 400 households were surveyed every day with data available for analysis and reporting before the field workers returned to the field the following day.</li>
    <li>Research staff and management were able to isolate and rectify issues whilst the study was in progress.</li>
    <li>Field worker productivity and quality was monitored on a daily basis for training and remuneration purposes.</li>
    <li>More than 25,000 households were surveyed in under 3 months.</li>
    <li>In total over 65,000 surveys were conducted.  </li>

Via MobileActive.