I highly recommend that, when completing any form of disease-related data collection, people should always record the location of the activity as you never know when it might come in handy! Given that almost all smartphones have an inbuilt GPS (geographical positioning system) receiver, it’s now very easy to do without requiring any specialist equipment. An open source (free) Android app I often use to collect simple point and track data is GPS Essentials. I’ve previously used this to record village locations in Malawi as part of a simple community mapping exercise, the instructions for which can be downloaded here.
If more extensive data is being collected e.g. a questionnaire, vector data etc is being conducted at each location then additional smartphone or tablet-based data collection tools may be required. OpenDataKit (ODK) is an excellent Android-based resource for doing this, allowing GPS coordinates, forms, photographs and audio to all be collected and linked on multiple mobile devices. It’s not too tricky to set up, and loads of resources are available online to guide you such as those listed here. I found the Google Earth Outreach tutorials most useful.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are used to store, visualise and analyse spatial data. Popular GIS software includes ArcGIS (commerical) and QGIS (open source). Given that QGIS is free to all who wish to use it, here I focus on QGIS resources only. There are many online tutorials and training documents to help you teach yourself how to use QGIS. Here I list just two, due to their application to developing country/NTD data:
- QGIS training materials developed by the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) to enable people to explore spatially-referenced indicator data collected during their surveys can be found here.
- QGIS training materials developed by the Global Atlas of Helminth Infections as part of their Modern Tools for NTD Control Programmes course can be found here