Google is working with the University of Washington on an open source field data collection tool called the Open Data Kit that enables easy data collection. The system is based on Google’s Android system, with support in many languages. It supports GPS data collection, the integration of images from a phone camera sensor, the capture of audio, and video. It provides a means to present multiple forms on one device, with automated connection to networks when the device is within range, and automated upload to Google’s Fusion Tables.
The system is being put to work in many developing nations for mapping and data collection efforts, including in Mexico, Tanzania, and Brazil. The aim is for an automated and collaborative approach where anyone can comment, update, and make changes, with two-way communication via the phone so that the time spent in the field can be most productive.