Friday, 10.30-11.30 (Balcony D)

Selecting the right data-collection tool: Make-or-break your system. Laurie Markle, Akros
If you are at the MERL Tech conference, you already know the value of data. Most of your programs already have a tool in place. But how do you know if you are using the most effective data system? The tool itself is almost as important as the data: only with an appropriate tool, will you be empowered to capture usable, useful, and accurate data. Knowing this, Akros takes a platform-agnostic, careful, conscious, and constructed approach to selecting the correct data collection tool for each project. Join us to learn how we do it!  Level: . 

Session Level:

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Session Details:

As a platform-agnostic data system design group, Akros is able to be truly impartial when selecting tools and technologies for data collection. The broad scope of our projects demands a flexible approach in system design. Akros has experience working as a technology partner and developing routine data collection systems for many different partners and sectors, including health, education, water and sanitation, and land management. The goal for this session is to present our approach and experience assessing data system requirements to identify the correct data collection tool. We will discuss how we conduct a formal assessment of stakeholders, data needs, data flow, data use analyses, and optimization capabilities, and how we use results from this assessment to identify the tool(s) best fit for purpose. We will also share how we apply this methodology by discussing one or two case-studies drawn from our own experiences in HIV-related and nutrition-related projects. Lastly, we will give participants a chance to simulate their own assessment scenarios through small-group exercises. You should leave this session with an understanding of the gravitas of the decision you make when you choose a data collection tool, as well as sense of the approach you need to take, and the questions to ask, to inform this decision.

Session Leads:

Laurie Markle, Client Relations Lead, Akros. Laurie is a monitoring and evaluation and program management specialist with over a decade of experience in development. She specializes in leveraging technology to improve data-driven decision-making, rapid data collection, and stakeholder engagement through focused feedback channels. She currently serves as a Client Relations Lead at Akros and previously as Akros’ Portfolio Lead overseeing the implementation of community-based surveillance efforts in WASH and education sectors. Previously based in Ethiopia and Zambia, she now works from Costa Rica. Learn more about Laurie here and at Akros.

Anne Martin, Health Informatics Officer and Global Health Corps Fellow, Akros. Anne is a public health specialist with in-depth training and experience in quantitative analysis and practical experience in program development and project management. She works with Akros, based in Lusaka, Zambia as a Research Associate focused on building technology appropriate, data-driven systems and developing in-country capacity for these systems. Anne’s role has both programmatic and research arms; she focuses on program implementation and qualitative assessment, while simultaneously investigating quantitative analysis of program metrics. Learn more about Anne here and at Akros.

Brian O’Donnell, HIV Informatics Manager, Akros. Brian is based in Lusaka, Zambia. He designs and implements mobile-to-web data collection systems for HIV prevention, education, and community sanitation surveillance programs in Zambia and across the region. He is also responsible for Akros DHIS2 trainings, and leading the Research & Development unit to integrate new tools and innovative data collection approaches into Akros projects. He holds an MA in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, where he specialized in technology policy, and a BA in government from the College of William & Mary. He has been helping governments and aid agencies to open and understand their development data since 2010. Learn more about Brian here and at Akros.