Masssachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $16,650

In order to meet the needs of local communities in developing countries, NGOs, designers, governments, academics, and policy makers need comprehensive, accurate data. But existing data collection processes are time-intensive, costly, and ultimately extract information from communities without engaging the community members themselves in the analysis.

This team is developing mSurvey, a simple, accessible technology that uses text-messaging technology to survey communities through mobile phones in developing countries. The technology captures data in real-time from anyone with a mobile phone and pays each respondent with mobile funds. The survey’s model enables communities to reflect on the disseminated data results from each question asked, a unique feature absent from current survey methodologies in developing countries.

The team has already performed two pilot projects in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa for another team at MIT (Sustainable Vision grantees Sanergy). mSurvey reached out to over 360 community members in 2.5 hours, who texted their input to 25 questions about housing conditions, sanitation, and other demographic information.