DIAL RFP: Up to $25,000 USD available to improve ODK

Hi ODKers! The DIAL Open Source Center has launched another round of funding support for open source projects who have "work that have traditionally been neglected or unfinished". We have plenty of important and unfinished work on ODK, so I wanted to highlight this opportunity!

You can find out more this round at http://www.osc.dial.community/grants.html. The application deadline is May 31st, 2018. The caveat for this round is that ODK can only submit one proposal.

Some project ideas:

  • Study and suggest improvements to popular widgets to improve data quality (@DalerHoda)
  • Ship specified improvements to the geo widgets (@IvanGayton)
  • Ship refinements to repeat group navigation (@TomSmyth)
  • Professionally design a logo and visual identity
  • Organize and lead a sprint around documentation
  • Organize and lead a sprint around the website

Do you and/or your organizations have ideas? Share them below to get the conversation started. Once there are some concrete suggestions, we can decide what is the best for the community and submit that one. The funding would go directly from DIAL to the individual(s) or group(s) doing the work.

@downey and @daveycrockett are both a part of DIAL and can answer questions about the opportunity. You can also review the discussion we had about this program the last time we applied (and @martijnr was funded!)


Thank you, @yanokwa.

Yes, I love to start extending our earlier work on curbing data entry errors. We could maybe identify one or two possibly problematic question types.

In the earlier experiment we had 24 interviewers enter more than 12,000 known dates under 12 different combinations of factors (phone vs tablet, single- vs double-entry, and three different date widget/interfaces. We found errors in about 10 in every 100 dates using single-entry with default calendar interface on a phone and we found errors in about 2 out of every 100 radio button entries where the choice was simply
o Male
o Female

You have made some subsequent changes to the date widgets. We could design a short instrument and run another experiment learning from last time. Count me as throwing my hat in the ring if this idea bubbles up as one of the top suggestions here.

A second idea would be to focus on several protocols for double-entry and see how the rates compare to single-entry:

  1. One operator enterst the field and enters it again immediately; they must match; this is what we tested before
  2. One operator enters the data in the double-entry items, and then hands the device to their partner who enters them again. For each item in the list, if there is a mis-match, the device asks the second operator to enter the corrected value, and then moves on.
  3. Of course that second protocol could be done by one person. Enter a set of items once, Then the questionnaire has you start again and enter them a second time, and when it finds a mis-match it stops and asks you to enter the definitive value.

We wouldn't want to do that for the entire questionnaire, but maybe for a small set of items that are crucial. In my case it would be for the dates that are written on a child's vaccination card.

We can't answer all the questions for $25k, but we could either run another decent-sized experiment, maybe with two international partners, or we could drill down on double-entry and see if there is a touchscreen equivalent of the keyboard practice that yields similarly low rates.


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Just to clarify: when I say 'rates' I mean entry error rates:

number of entries where the response entered does NOT match the known target response

divided by

number of entries with a known target response

Here's a link to slides for a recent talk about the earlier experiment. I'm happy to answer questions.

ODKers a few of the improvements in my thinking would be; Could it be possible to have multiple users on an instance but only access forms that the administrator has allowed each user? Also think about how we could segment data collector accounts. System integration and interoperability of ODK with other systems e.g ReDCap would be a great improvement.

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I vote for this feature

spot on , it would indeed be nice to see some interoperability between ODK and Redcap , personally this will be a game changer because of the hustling that i do between the two projects in my field work.

The “Dirty Jobs, part 2” theme interested me. There’s some technical backlog on the ODK transition and infrastructure I would like to clean up. Some particular areas of interest:

  1. The docs contribution infrastructure. It was partially updated in March, but it still needs Windows support and easier commands to run and parse the output of the style and spell checkers. There is also this issue that is a big win for lowering the bar to contribute.
  2. The new website contribution infrastructure. The website should have style and spell checking to correspond to the docs. The reader’s experience should be consistent across these resources. At a minimum this would include porting the spell checker and the parts of the style checker that make sense. It might be a good idea to write a style guide and a contributors guide to the website as well.
  3. Implement a consistent code style across the Android apps. Using checkstyle, define a code style for ODK Android apps (with community input) and add it to each of the Android repos as a gradle task. Then bring each app into compliance with the new standard.
  4. Moving ODK 2’s testing over to Circle CI and unifying the project under the same technology. This is beneficial for community contribution and all the other reasons that ODK 1 chose Circle CI. ODK 2 should also be posting library dependencies to JCenter or another centralized repository, rather than the UW hosted Artifactory server.

This work’s cost would vary depending on the scope and how many of these tasks resonate with the community. I wouldn’t want to take more than half of the grant though, and would be happy to split the grant with another project in a joint proposal. I could also submit for just this amount if there is community interest around it.


The deadline for this is coming up quickly! May 31st is one week from today.

So far there are two proposals with someone who can receive the money and do the work:

I would really like to see something from @Ivangayton about geo improvements since that's something a lot of users have interest in.

@paul_macharia, @khalifeserge, @smuema you have shown some interest in various ideas. In order to write a proposal you will need someone to receive the funds and complete the work. Do you have such people in mind?

How about making a final decision on which project(s) to write up on Monday May 28 to have a few days to complete the (short) proposal(s)?

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Update: DIAL has extended the application deadline to 15 June.


As discussed in the Slack Alternative thread, I would be happy to implement the Slack message archiving as another Dirty Job.

I plan to write up a draft of a proposal and post it early this week for community feedback. If anyone has particular interest in any of the ideas or has a dirty jobs request, please post it.

I have posted a draft of my proposal here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q4F_Am-gV6fUGKEjdgEtc6dJg9KU7I248cWOTHCrC14/edit?usp=sharing

Please reply here or comment directly on the draft with any feedback. This is a rough version; both the language and cost estimates may change.

Also note that this includes four activities, but as stated above I am happy to shrink that to accommodate combining with another proposal.

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Here is an early draft of a second proposal...happy to combine with Jeff's proposal. We are still working up initial budget numbers. More details tomorow. Feel free to review and comment!

@Jeff_Beorse and @Dalerhoda, thank you for your continued work on the proposals! Please be sure to finish up your drafts by close of business on Wednesday so the @PMC has a chance to review the proposals, make suggestions, and prepare for a final submission!

I've got confirmation from DIAL that we can't combine the proposals. So, basically what the RFP says:

Submit only one single proposal per open source project, representing your community’s best idea.

Well that is unfortunate. I'm supportive of whatever direction the community and the PMC decide to go.

Thanks everyone for the detailed feedback. I have incorporated the feedback and restructured the proposal to fit the DIAL application format.

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The @PMC met a few hours back and decided to move forward with @Jeff_Beorse's proposal! Nicely done, Jeff. Please submit the proposal to http://www.osc.dial.community/grant-application-form.html before tomorrow's deadline.

@Dalerhoda Thank you so much for the work and thought you put into your proposal. It highlights important work that needs to be funded and I'm hoping that sharing your proposal publicly entices folks who find data quality important to come together and find ways to fund it.

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Thanks to the @PMC for supporting my proposal! And thanks to @Dalerhoda and everyone in the community who participated in this process.

I have submitted my proposal to DIAL's OSC and will bring updates as soon as I learn more.

Hi All,

Unfortunately, we were not selected for the grant this round. I'l include the message below.

Greetings Jeff and team,

Thank you once again for your proposal during this past round of the DIAL Open Source Center’s catalytic grant program. Unfortunately we will be unable to fund ODK’s proposal during this specific round of funding.

Our review team was overwhelmed by the number of outstanding projects and proposals in this round, and has just finalized all of the grant offers our budget permits for this round. While we wish we could provide resources for each and every submission, we regret we were not able to do for ODK this time around.

Please note, we plan to offer these catalytic grants twice a year, so please stay tuned in the coming months for an upcoming announcement about the next round. Additionally, you may be aware we just announced our annual large “strategic grant” program. More information about that grant is now available on our website at http://www.osc.dial.community/. ODK may wish to work this project idea into a larger more comprehensive project.

We realize this news may be disappointing, but hope you will continue to stay involved with the growing OSC community. Over the coming months, we plan to announce not only additional funding opportunities, but mentorship programs, opportunities for collaboration with other similar projects, and other technical assistance services. If you have not yet done so, we encourage you to sign up to the OSC Forum at https://forum.osc.dial.community/ to stay informed of new programs as they are announced, and to network with others doing similar work.

With gratitude,
Governance Advisory Board
DIAL Open Source Center

Note that they have a larger strategic grant application open. I will not be applying for that, but wanted to point it out in case @Dalerhoda or someone else wanted to pursue it.