Mobile phone-based field surveys.
Organisations use Akvo FLOW to evaluate development aid initiatives and make informed investment decisions based on accurate, current data.
What is Akvo FLOW?
Akvo FLOW is a tool built specially for international development teams to monitor and evaluate initiatives while working in diverse locations that are often remote or lacking reliable basic infrastructure. It is designed for people who want to understand what is happening now, so they can make informed decisions that lead to secure, sustainable development aid investments.
Since the first version was introduced in 2010 by US NGO Water For People, FLOW has been proven in use around the world by teams tasked with ensuring development activity is working. In 2012, Akvo and Water For People entered into an agreement for Akvo to further develop FLOW to make it an open source tool that can be run as an online service that is user-friendly, well-supported and affordable.
Why use Akvo FLOW?
Historically, manual data collection was cumbersome. Staff had to carry GPS, cameras and papers into the field. Compilation involved paper forms, re-entered into spreadsheets, and sent to headquarters to be filed away. The manual data entry process meant high error rates. Paper remained locked away in filing cabinets. Real results were not measurable, visible or accessible.
Akvo FLOW changes how initiatives and interventions are made. It dramatically improves the accuracy of data and makes it easier to gather and share by using the best available tool for this purpose – the smartphone.
Smartphones. Dashboards. Online maps.
Akvo FLOW is an affordable and reliable service that organisations can use to collect, manage, analyse and display geographically-referenced monitoring and evaluation data. It offers fast data collection, survey flexibility and analytical tools, so decisions can be made based on good data and visual evidence.
Internet-based management tools: design surveys and manage how they are distributed to smartphones
FLOW app: staff in the field can conduct surveys using the FLOW field survey app on Android smartphones and send the data to databases hosted in the cloud; colleagues can design and send the survey questionnaires to field staff over the air.
Maps and dashboards: makes it easy to manage phone users, create surveys and generate online maps to view, explore and share survey data
As data is collected, it uploads automatically to the programme dashboard so it can be made available and analysed in real time, by many team members in large numbers of locations, as well as made available online in dedicated map interfaces. For the first time, the status of infrastructure such as water points across entire regions or even countries can be monitored affordably.
Link teams together.
Akvo FLOW is designed to fit the different roles common in large-scale data collection situations, including enumerators, field managers and project managers. With Akvo FLOW, teams of remote field workers can more easily stay in touch with progamme managers and experts who may not be based nearby the project. As data is gathered and surveys are submitted via the FLOW app, the information becomes instantly visible on the FLOW dashboard.
Create and distribute surveys.
Using the FLOW dashboard, teams can create simple or complex surveys on any topic. The diversity is endless – surveys can include photos, videos, barcodes and audio clips. Users have total flexibility to collect the information that will have the most impact on their project.
Phones can store hundreds of surveys and data can be collected in areas where there is no mobile connection – Akvo FLOW automatically transmits the data once a connection is detected, so the system can be used anywhere in the world, even in areas where infrastructure is lacking or under-developed.
Once data appears on the dashboard, teams can produce reports in a number of formats ranging from Excel spreadsheets to maps, histograms and pie charts and use them for rapid analysis. This helps programme teams understand whether a project is working. It can also be used by funders – governments, private companies, aid organisations and financiers – to make results-based investments.
Field proven. Ready to scale.
Following the transition of FLOW from Water For People, Akvo has been working to introduce it across the international development community at scale and integrate easily into organisations’ workflows, systems and websites.
Today, the network of partners using Akvo FLOW spans 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East.
Who is using Akvo FLOW?
Teams of monitoring and project management staff have used FLOW across development aid sectors to monitor water and sanitation points, health and education initiatives, food security and more. For details on how Akvo FLOW is being used around the world click here.
Akvo FLOW requires a computer, a modern web browser, an internet connection and an Android smartphone running Android OS 2.2+ with integrated GPS and camera, and a wireless and/or mobile data connection. It also requires a spreadsheet application that supports .xls and .txt, such as Microsoft Excel 2007 or LibreOffice 4.0+.
Download the Akvo FLOW 1.6 product spec sheet here (PDF, 2.5MB)
Read more about what's coming in future releases on our product roadmap for developers page.
Akvo believes that support is a critical piece of the implementation puzzle. To access our help and support resources, please visit: Akvo FLOW support