Mobile Data collection: The Liberian experience

Mobile data collection is a new way of conducting enumerations, surveys, etc using mobile devices with various mobile technologies.

 These technologies come with a lot of advantages from easy collection, analysis, collaboration to disseminating data in real time onward to finding a unique way to curate and organize data directly from the field, helping to reduce the time it takes to complete survey by improving data integrity and accuracy.

There are a lot of mobile data collection tools, proprietary and open source alike in used nowadays, each with it’s unique functionality; from mapping, curating, analyzing, collaborating data, to real time collection.

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The System

Our implementation methodology uses formhub instead of ODK Aggregate which wasn’t conducive for our reporting structure. We chose to use formhub as server and Open Data Kit Collect  Android app to render and handle the forms on the mobile devices.

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IT project management and web/mobile development trainings at iLab in March!

iLab has a very special program coming up in March – targeting especially web/mobile/software developers and entrepreneurs. We have  a visiting expert, Jukka Heinonen, from Finland visiting iLab from Feb 27 to March 25. The detailed times for trainings are being worked out,  training descriptions below.


Introduction to Software Project Management  - March 5th-11th, 1:30PM – 3:30PM
“Work smart on the right things at the right time – as a team.” This training provides a high-level understanding on different aspects of software projects. Intended to give ideas on what to take into account when planning to implement a piece of software, bigger or smaller. This training is meant for IT entrepreneurs, software or web developers, project managers and others who manage or implement projects.

Agile software development using Scrum – March 10th- 14th , 4:00PM – 6:00PM
“Avoid the pitfalls of software projects that go nowhere – harness the power of Agile development and learn to use Scrum” This training introduces participants to agile software development and the Scrum project management methodology. An overview training describes how successful software development is managed with Scrum. After this training the audience should understand the principles Scrum to start experimenting and learning more. Participants should have some experience in (software development) projects, as developers, testers, project managers or customers. Preferably the have participated in the Introduction to Software Project management training.

Scrum test run- March 19th- 21st, 1:30PM- 3:30PM
Length from two to four sessions.
Try out the Scrum method for real – and get expert assistance to help you out. This intensive training helps you practice the Scrum methodology taught in the training “Agile development with Scrum“ – so you can manage software or website development projects effectively. Meant for participants of the “Agile development with Scrum” – training.

Introduction to Mobile software development – March 17th- 21st, 4:30PM- 6:30PM
The opportunity for mobile technologies in Liberia is huge – so how to get started? This training is intended to give an introduction the mobile software development landscape – different operating systems, what is required to build and run software on them. What can be done with mobile technologies and what technology to use? What is a good mobile application or mobile service idea – and how can it be refined?
This is not a programming course. Instead, this is intended to be a starter package for developers, entrepreneurs and business owners considering mobile applications.
Provides a great opportunity for networking with mobile tech enthusiasts!


About Jukka Heinonen

Mr. Jukka Heinonen, M.Sc. Technology, is a  Finnish software development professional with over 15 years of experience in software development, from startups to international  IT  corporations. He has been in teams developing software ranging from small bleeding edge proof-of-concept mobile applications to globally used software and systems. Tens of thousands of people have used software in which Jukka has been involved. His specialties include software project management, agile development methodologies, Scrum and mobile applications and systems.

Get in touch with us now – and help spread the word!

The iLab team!

Mobile Money in Liberia

Mobile Money is a term that refers to mobile financial services, mobile payment, mobile banking, mobile money transfer and mobile wallet – all of which generally refer to payment services operated under financial regulation and performed from or via a mobile device.

 

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators in Liberia, particularly LonestarCell MTN http://www.lonestarcell.com/have begun offering this service, which is quite timely and has its advantages in a country where the economy is growing. At the same time, like the M-Kesh of Mozambique, the uptake of mobile money services in Liberia has been slow to start.

 

One way to start branding and customizing these services in Liberia would be for the GSM operators or Liberia Telecommunications Authority http://lta.gov.lr/ to come up with a unique nomenclature for this service instead of Mobile Money which is the generic name that refers to the technology.

 

Recently in Nigeria, GlobaCom and UBA has signed an MOU with the Government to launch it’s Mobile Money service which though not yet functional but have named U-Mo .See http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/glo-uba-sign-mou-on-mobile-money-service/97220/

 

In other countries in Africa, such as Kenya, the M-Pesa mobile money service is blooming and has helped bridge the urban-to-rural gap in banking and money transferring services. When fully adopted in Liberia, I believe these services will help boost the economy. For example, institutions like the government can make salary payments using Mobile Money for county officials thereby avoiding transporting huge amount of dollars from county to county for the sole purpose of salary disbursement.

 

Why Mobile Money?

Many Liberians have to travel far from home to find work and need to be able to send money back to their families, particularly in far-flung counties. Existing money transfer options are extremely expensive and many people cannot afford it.

 

Traditionally in Liberia, money has been transferred in a risky unregulated manner via long expensive trips carrying cash in an unpredictable environment. Technology in the banking sectors has begun to close this gap, and this is where Mobile Money comes in – allowing users to make frequent transfers without having to personally access a bank.

 

Advantages

Mobile Money can lower the cost of remittances as it removes the need for physical points of presence and ensures a timely and secure method of transaction. This technology has been a great success with a lot of benefits to individuals, societies and the Governments. Can you link to a site where there is evidence/accounts of the benefits?

However, there are a few aspects that the LTA (Liberia Telecommunication Authority) as a regulator of GSM operators needs to address relating to Mobile Money Transfer:

  1. Should the regulator allow a non-banking institution, such as all the GSM companies in Liberia, to get into the banking domain by accepting deposits and doing most of the functions of a bank without applying the same level of regulations on it as with banks?
  1. How will the regulators and financial institutions bring interoperability in mobile banking?
  1. How do the unbanked customers of mobile banking build their credit history?


In the case of Liberia, we are in our early stages of Mobile Money’s growth and we need to carry out a lot more awareness and publicity of the service in order to have it widely spread and adopted as soon as possible.

 

For those who are interested, I will outline what you need to do to sign up for Mobile Money. Since it is only LoneStar Cell MTN whose offering the service currently, I will outline the user procedure related to Lonestar:

To register for Mobile Money you need to:

  • Fill out an application form
  • Provide valid identification card (Passport, Driver License, Voter ID)

To complete Registration:

  • Dial *156# and the call/ok button
  • A welcome message is received, Welcome to Mobile Money, please select, Please select ID type
    • Driver’s License
    • National ID
    • Passport
    • Others (School, Church, Work etc.)
  • Select reply/send
  • Enter ID number ex. 1214
  • Select reply/send
  • Select Pin code ex. 12345
  • Repeat Pin code ex. 12345

To download the entire Mobile Money User guide for Lonestar Cell MTN, click here