• Written by Jana Gombitova
    24 January 2018
Akvo Flow in 2018

Above: The road by Thomas Baron.

2018 is here, and the Akvo Flow team are looking forward to another year filled with improvements, so that you can continue scaling your data collection projects in a simple way. Before I share a peek into the ideas we have for this new year, here is a little summary of what happened in 2017.

Scaling your data collection

Our number one goal in 2017 was allowing you to scale your data collection with Flow. We improved Flow’s technical architecture to make it a faster and more reliable tool so that you don’t have limitations when capturing data. Besides fixing bugs you shared with us, we also improved the overall performance of Flow. Have you created a large survey form with more than 100 questions in Flow? Now it will show up within two seconds, rather than the everlasting 15 seconds it took before.

Furthermore, we made sure you can monitor at scale by improving the ability to sync data to your Flow app for the next round of data collection. We also fully redesigned data exports, giving you a variety of options so that you can choose the structure that fits you best.   

Data collection and beyond

Not only can you capture unlimited amounts of data with Flow, you can now also easily put your data to immediate use. Last year marked the launch of the new version of Flow’s API and Akvo Lumen, Akvo’s data transformation, analysis and visualisation tool. With its direct link to Flow, your visualisations can now show the current situation based on the latest data. Speaking of integration, there is also Akvo Caddisfly, our water quality tool which brings water quality tests to your Flow surveys. By combining our Akvo tools and supporting you in making use of your Flow data, you can turn your data to information you can understand, trust and act upon.

data collection

Above: To infinity and beyond by Michele M.F.

2018. What’s in it for you?

We were thrilled to see the five millionth form submitted to Flow last year, and in 2018, we will continue improving Flow so that you can keep on scaling your data collection projects in a simple way. We have a plan to further simplify the data structure in exports by, for example, putting the answers to ‘other, please specify’ in a separate column. This way, you will know what ‘other’ means to your respondents with one glimpse. Secondly, we will revamp how you use variable names. Thirdly, we want to simplify how you learn about the progress of publishing a survey form and the status of importing your cleaned data.

Keep your data safe in 2018

In 2018, we are looking in more detail into how we ensure data is safe in Flow and how to support you in putting your responsible data management practices in place. In the light of the new EU legislation on handling personal data, we are making sure we keep your personal data safe. We will change how we store your captured data on the app, how you access images and videos, how you preview data on the map, and how you download your data exports to ensure user access is checked on Flow at all times.

Stay up to date on all Flow improvements

In the Flow team, we want to achieve a lot in 2018, and this is just a small preview of some interesting changes coming your way. But we cannot do it without you. You help us learn about the joys and pains of data collection in remote areas by taking part in user research, giving us feedback on changes, reporting issues in our support page, and asking us hard questions. Keep them coming!

Thank you for standing by our side in making Flow your data collection tool. We are excited to keep on working together in one way or another in 2018. To see our shared progress you can always check our roadmap or read about what’s new on our support page.

Jana Gombitova is Product manager for Akvo Flow. You can follow her on Twitter @janagombitova.