Akvo Really Simple Reporting (Akvo RSR) is designed to make it much easier to bring complex networks of location-based projects online. The system is optimised for use by people working on infrastructure, health, education and economic development projects in the international development community. Akvo RSR is run by the Akvo Foundation as a paid-for service provided to several hundred development organisations around the world. Akvo RSR is an open source project backed by the Dutch government and a number of other funders. The Akvo RSR software and service has been under development by a team of software developers at Akvo since 2007.
Akvo RSR is a web-based application that includes the following features:
- Akvo RSR available under your own brand and your own URL.
- A project database and highly refined web interface optimised for international development projects.
- Generates digital maps showing project locations.
- Project data, funding, maps, photographs, status updates, videos and partnerships and more is all visible to visitors.
- Generates automatic listings of all projects and search tools.
- “Donate now” gateway with support for credit cards, PayPal and the Dutch iDEAL payment system.
Each project can now have its own page, with no hassle
Akvo RSR gives each of your projects its own searchable web page, integrated into your website and discoverable on ours. Project location maps are automatically generated in Google Maps as each project page is created. A simple user interface allows support and field staff to enter project updates easily – including photos, text and video – directly using their smartphone or computer. We are even experimenting with project updates via SMS.
Project information and updates can be shared automatically via any number of websites using Akvo widgets, making it possible to update once and feature everywhere, in each organisation’s website. This means as soon as someone in the field posts a picture or a status report, everyone who’s interested, wherever they are in the world, can view it almost immediately. Everyone has the latest information without any need for version controls or endless circulation and republishing.
Branding and embedding
A major new feature in Akvo RSR 2.0 is the ability to have the Akvo RSR project tools with an organisations own branding and URL. These are customised, branded project pages that allow organisations to keep visitors within their own website environment. While the project pages are kept in the Akvo RSR system, the experience is designed to keep a user within that organisation’s website environment, retaining the expected look and feel, while benefiting from Akvo’s sophisticated project database and interface.
A major new feature in Akvo RSR 2.0 is the ability to have the Akvo RSR project tools with an organisations own branding and URL.
Anyone can embed a project feature box (which we call a “widget”) in their website using a little bit of HTML code. The code, which is easy to customise from the user interface, is generated by clicking a link in the relevant project page. Project widgets can be set to feature a specific project or a random project from a specific organisation.
Multiple organisations, multiple updaters
Akvo RSR is designed to make it easy to bring complex networks of projects online. Our term for each participating organisation is a “partner”. Projects can have multiple funding (finance), support (supervisory) and field (implementation) partners. But all projects must have at least one of each. Any organisation that is a partner in the project can add updates. The system is designed so it’s easy to view listings of projects that a particular organisation is involved with, or subsets of projects that involve a combination of organisations, such as a consortium.
No-installation and easy training
Akvo RSR works on any modern web browser. It requires no software installation onsite and no dedicated hardware. Administrators and update users log into the system with a username and password through their browser and anyone with modest office computer skills can normally learn to use the system quickly.
The more significant training requirements associated with Akvo RSR involves encouraging people working on projects to add frequent high quality status updates using the system. Akvo has developed a range of materials for its partners, including manuals and animations that help train field staff on the topics of when to make project updates, what makes a good photo update and how to create simple video updates on location.
Automatic distributed publishing
Akvo is a distributed content management tool. That means that project details and updates only need to be entered once into Akvo RSR to automatically propagate across any instance where that project is listed. So a project consortium that may involve, say, 15 partner organisations, gets to have just one project database that can serve 15 different websites, and all the places where widgets are displayed, automatically.
Who’s using Akvo RSR?
This blog post is part of a series, (not all written yet), which describes what we at Akvo are doing, how we are doing it and why:
by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson, co-founder and co-director of Akvo Foundation, with a lot of help from Mark Charmer and Jo Pratt.