Use of ODK to improve mapping for Ebola response in Sierra Leone

I'm very happy to share a recently published article in PLOS ONE about work we carried out in Sierra Leone in 2015 by mobilising a local community with self-owned smartphones using OpenDataKit (ODK) and OpenStreetMap Automated Navigation Directions (OsmAnd). We used this software to collect vital mapping and village information from chiefdoms within Tonkolili and Bombali Districts in order to improve Ebola response.

Locals with self-owned Android smartphones were recruited as data collectors and trained on the use of the software. This took only 1-2 hours, as the software is very user friendly (so, a big thank is due to the creator and developers). Also, as all Android smartphones were self-owned, no training was required for device use.The data collectors were then paired with motorbike drivers known as "Okadas" who then traveled throughout the chiefdoms collecting village information using ODK and GPS coordinates of the villages using OsmAnd.

Maps using the collected data were created for the MSF Magburaka Ebola management centre (EMC) outreach teams to facilitate hygiene-kit distribution in recently quarantined villages, investigation of suspect Ebola cases and for realistic planning of how to get to and from the MSF Magburaka EMC to local villages. Ebola survivors from Tonkolili District were linked with the survey data, which facilitated follow-up and medical support among survivors. The mapping data were shared with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone District and National Ebola Response Centres, OpenStreetMap and the MSF GIS team (MSF-OCG). The data were also used as part of the MSF plan to strengthen the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response system (IDSR) in Tonkolili District.

The paper is available here:


Thanks for sharing this paper, @niclochl! The community of developers works really hard to make ODK easy to implement and I'm so glad that your team was able to pick it up so quickly.