From ColaLife: Deployment of the Field Monitoring System Gets Underway

13975955349_607f2640b3_zColaLife is an NGO that  is working to leverage the distribution network of Coca-Cola to get simple medicines, such as rehydration salts, and information on how to use them, to the most remote areas in developing countries.

In the following guest blog post, ColaLife’s Simon Berry reflects on the organization’s experience using CommCare to build and run a system to support their retailers.


This evening (Sunday, 11-May-14) the two KYTS project managers from the two front-line Zambian NGOs (KZF andiDE) undertaking the community-based marketing for Kit Yamoyo came around for a ‘training of trainers’ session on the new tablet-based ColaLife Field Monitoring System (CFMS).

This is pretty awesome, although I say so myself! I have built it using the incredible CommCare system developed and maintained by Dimagi.

CommCare is a very robust and sophisticated development of the open source Open Data Kit (ODK) – mobile data collection system.

The organisation contracted by UNICEF to undertake the COTZ surveys (Ruralnet Associates) used ODK for data collection but only the other day the penny dropped – we could be using ODK to provide a common structure for the retailer support visits that KZF and iDE staff undertake AND collect valuable management information in the process.

I started by setting up our own ODK Server and trying to develop our own data collection forms but soon got out of my depth. I was then pointed to CommCare which does all the difficult stuff for you and has an excellent form builder within it.

So what does CFMS do?
At the moment CFMS supports visits to Kit Yamoyo retailers and reminds the field staff of the sort of things they should be discussing and the questions they should be asking:

  • Stock levels of Kit Yamoyo
  • Recent sales
  • Whether a Kit Yamoyo sign is displayed outside the shop
  • Where the Kit Yamoyo is displayed
  • And so on…

All this data is uploaded to the CommCare servers as soon as the tablets return to a location where there is WiFi. The foundation of the retailer visit form is a master list of retailers with all their details, including GPS coordinates, which are recorded by the GPS function within the tablets. Changes to these retailer details made on one tablet are synchronised to all the others so everyone is working from the same master list.

In the next version of CFMS we will be adding functions to support visits to wholesalers.

Thanks to Mofya at Dimagi for technical support in the development of this application.



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