What is KoBoToolbox?

  • KoBo Toolbox is a free open-source tool for mobile data collection, available to all. It allows you to collect data in the field using mobile devices such as mobile phones or tablets, as well as with paper or computers.

  • It is being continuously improved and optimized particularly for the use of humanitarian actors in emergencies and difficult field environments, in support of needs assessments, monitoring and other data collection activities.

  • The adaptation of KoBo Toolbox for humanitarian use is a joint initiative between OCHAHarvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

How do I get started?

KoBo supports the full data collection cycle - form design, data collection, and analysis. Just follow the steps below or see more information at KoBoToolbox Help Center


Preparations before starting a data collection project using KoBo

Once you have decided to go ahead and use KoBo Toolkit for your data collection needs in the field, this is what you need to do to be ready to start:

  1. Sign up for a KoBo account (it’s completely free and you have unlimited storage and access to support from OCHA)

  2. Decide on which device you want to use for your data collection (see the article on KoBo support page) - also taking into consideration time of procurement process and availability of devices

  3. If you are using Android phones/tablets

    1. Ensure you have sufficient amount of phones/tablets for your data collection needs

    2. Install bar code scanner

    3. Install KoBo Collect app on all phones/tablets

  4. If you are using iPhones

    1. Ensure you have sufficient amount of phones for your data collection needs

    2. Ensure all phones have Chrome installed

    3. Ensure all phones have a bar code scanner app installed

  5. If you are using PCs

    1. Ensure you have sufficient amount of PCs for your data collection needs

    2. Ensure all PCs have Chrome installed

    3. Download the Data Analyser tool (optional, but needed for improved analysis capacity)

  6. Now you’re ready to go ahead with designing your forms.

Always ensure you have your assessment plan ready before starting to design your survey!

Step 1 - Designing a form

Once you have finished your preparations, the first step of the data collection is designing your form. This is worth spending some extra time to ensure it fulfills your needs.

  1. Always ensure that you have done your assessment plan and know which information you need and how to use the information before starting to designing your form

  2. If several partners are involved, try getting all partners in the same room and create the form directly in KoBo, rather than mailing around paper forms and then “translating” them into KoBo – it will give better results and is a faster way of designing the form

  3. Try keeping your form as simple as possible, step by step instructions on how to use the different functionalities of the KoBo form builder can be found here

  4. Use naming conventions, see link for general recommendations here, although there may be country-specific differences 

  5. Don’t forget using the Question Library functionality, if applicable. You can download a 100 questions library sample or a more complete Question Library

  6. If you need more complex functionality than what is available in the interface of the KoBo form builder, remember that you can always export your form and add the additional functionality in the Excel sheet (KoBo is totally synched with ODK), but do this only after you have finished the rest of your form. See here for links to XLSFormOpen Data Kit, how to create questions for scoringrankingP-codes and cascading lists)

  7. If you need your form in multiple languages, follow instructions here

  8. Don’t forget to preview your form before saving and exiting to check for any spelling errors, errors in added logic, etc.

Once the form is created you are ready to deploy it and start collecting the data.

Step 2 - Collecting the data

Once your form has been designed, you are ready to start collecting the data.

  1. Train the enumerators, so they fully understand questions and methodology

  2. Deploy the form you want to use for your data collection

  3. If enumerators are going offline – no problem, the forms will be uploaded to the system once they are connected again 

    1. If you are using Android phones/tablets

      1. Ensure all phones/tablets can access the survey by setting up the correct URL (Server URL set up)

      2. Ensure that all phones/tablets have the relevant form(s) downloaded from your account (Download forms from your account)

      3. Clean the phones/tablets so they can only access relevant surveys and settings by hiding buttons and options (Hiding buttons and options within KoBoCollect)

      4. Ensure all phones/tablets are fully charged - note that tablets usually take a long time to charge

    2. If you are using smartphones

      1. Upload the survey to all phones (preferably by barcode scanner)

      2. Ensure all phones can access the survey

      3. Ensure all phones are fully charged

    3. If you are using PCs

      1. Ensure all PCs can access the survey (even if the internet is available, in case it stops working)

      2. Ensure all PCs are fully charged (in case of power failure)

Always print plenty of paper copies for backup (the preview functionality gives the best layout)!

When the data collection is done, it's time for the last step - analyzing the data.

Step 3 - Analysing the data

When your data is collected, it's time for the analysis step.

  1. Ensure all the forms have been submitted (check if any devices are still offline and have not completed their submissions) 

  2. If you are without any network connection, transfer the information from mobile devices to PC by cable 

  3. Use the KoBo analyzing possibilities 

  4. Export data to Data Analyser and/or Excel or other formats and continue the analysis

Always make sure you have a data analyzer involved when analyzing the data to ensure the quality of analysis - automated analysis is never a substitute!