Can Mobile Device Management Improve the Data Collection Processes?

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When doing large scale monitoring, evaluation and research, organizations often deploy hundreds of frontline workers with hundreds of devices for mobile data collection.
Naturally, people being people, enumerators download Candy Crush, Facebook, YouTube videos, mobile screen savers, and use up significant battery life and data on those apps rather than on their actual work app. This can be frustrating to a project and push them way over budget and deadlines.
IT staff often implement ad hoc solutions like the free App Lock tool for Android mobile phones, but it’s far from perfect. It delivers annoying ads, it eats up battery life, and it’s extremely easy for workers to circumvent.
Enter Mobile Device Management
It turns out there is a better way. It’s called Mobile Device Management, and its typically used by multinational corporate entities and large established sales teams.
Thinking this might be a solution for the international development sector, I tested demos from the various options for MDM, such as Miradore, AirWatch, and HexNode. I quickly realized these existing MDM tools were developed specifically with large corporate enterprises in mind.

  • Miradore had too many complex steps to setting up individual devices
  • AirWatch was prohibitively expensive – over $3 per device per month
  • HexNode required heavy training and admin support to use the tool

Overall, all of them were clunky, hard to use, and required constant administrative monitoring and support rather than just working on their own. Most of us in international development don’t have the capacity for that kind of overhead.
Mobile Device Management for International Development
I think there could be an even better way to solve the mobile device management problem for international development. It’s time we create an MDM tool that meets our specific development needs, including:

  • Data utilization management
  • Application blacklisting
  • Location tracking
  • Group notifications
  • Remote lock/unlock/wiping of devices

The tool should also just work, without the need for external training, be cost-effective, and function easily in our low-connectivity environments.
So, I’ve convinced Dimagi to build one. MobileAtWork is an MDM tool for the international development sector. In March, we’re running a free beta pilot test with a few select organizations.
If your organization has dozens or hundreds of mobile devices with field staff and you are frustrated by:

  • Constant data over-usage and top-ups
  • Erroneous app downloads and non-work usage
  • Unclear geographic location of workers
  • Losing sensitive patient data from a stolen or lost phone
  • An inability to communicate one clear message to the entire workforce

Then apply now to join our free beta test, and let’s work together to end the pain of mobile device management at scale.
By Shabnam Aggarwal, a strategic advisor at Dimagi.
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