Open Data Kit (ODK)


Open Data Kit (ODK) is an open-source suite of tools that helps organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. Our goals are to make open-source and standards-based tools which are easy to try, easy to use, easy to modify and easy to scale. To this end, we are proud members of the  OpenRosa Consortium and active participants in the JavaRosa project.

ODK’s core developers are researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering department and active members of Change, a multi-disciplinary group at UW exploring how technology can improve the lives of under-served populations around the world.

ODK began as a sponsored sabbatical project under the direction of Gaetano Borriello in April of 2008 at Google’s Seattle offices. The initial team included Bill Schilit of Google Research, Adam Lerer of MIT (as a Google intern), and Julie Chin of UW CSE graduate students Carl Hartung, Yaw Anokwa, and Waylon Brunette joined the team soon thereafter (as Google interns) and were responsible for the first two deployments of the tools in Uganda and Brazil.

Gaetano, Carl, Yaw and Waylon brought ODK back to UW in September of 2009 and Mitchell Sundt joined the team as a software engineer in 2010. Other contributors at UW include Brian DeRenzi, Rohit Chaudhri, Nicola Dell, and numerous undergraduates. See our team page for a full list of participants.

ODK is funded by a Google Focused Research Award and through donations from users. ODK is supported by a growing community of developers, implementers and users.


To use ODK, you need to do three things — design a form, setup a server, and connect the device to that server. Once those three things are done, you’ll be ready to start data collection.

You’ll need three tools:

  • Build or XLSForm — to design your survey form.
  • Collect — running on an Android device to download and fill-in the survey.
  • Aggregate — for hosting the survey form and gathering the survey results. Alternatively, Briefcasecan be used to gather the survey results (but you’ll need to manually place the survey form onto the Android device).

If any of this sounds complicated, we promise it’s not! As one user said, “the instructions on the ODK site for doing this were easy-breezy to follow.” If you run into problems, ask questions on the opendatakitcommunity mailing list.

Below is a demo video of Collect, our Android-based data collection client. Watch it, then start with the instructions for Collect, then try Build and Aggregate. For longer forms and more complicated branching, we recommend using XLSForm to design your form.





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