31 Jan



Searching for an inexpensive, easy-to-use, and sustainable solution to your data collection woes? Go paperless and avoid the complications of data digitalization with Magpi, an award-winning, cloud-based, mobile data collection, visualization, and messaging system.  Currently serving 65,000 users in over 170 countries with clients such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Magpi provides user-customizable data forms and a programming-free interface that may be utilized on any mobile device.  

Magpi features three different types of data collection: app-based data collection on smartphones, SMS-based collection on any SIM-equipped device, and voice-based collection through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. Data may be collected offline with the mobile app and uploaded later, once connectivity is regained, or via satellite using integration with Delorme satellite systems.  An example of this can be seen in how a Magpi-based system provided a means for effective communication between disaster response workers in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, even in areas of little to no service. Magpi also has the capability of taking geo-referenced data on GPS-enabled mobile devices and instantly displaying this data through built-in visualization tools.

Above, a TED talk about Magpi by Dr. Selanikio, which can also be found here.

Magpi, formerly known as DataDyne, was founded in 2003 by Dr. Joel Selanikio and Rose Donna. According to Dr. Selanikio, the initial impetus for developing Magpi was to address the tremendous need for data, as “we still are routinely in the dark when it comes to even the most basic statistics about poorer countries.” Working as a global health doctor, he noticed that there were little to no tools for an average person to create an electronic data collection system, as hiring a programmer would incur exorbitant costs and result in a system with limited transferability to other projects. The paper-based collection of data used in international development and global health also seemed anachronistic in a world where mobile devices with considerable computing power were rapidly spreading. Inspired by the successes of companies like Hotmail and Facebook that may be used with no prior training, Dr. Selanikio developed Magpi, which has often been called the “G-mail of data collection”, which has an objective “to make mobile data collection, messaging, and visualization simple and cost-effective and accessible to everyone.”  

Since its conception, Magpi has not only become the longest running mobile data collection system in global development, but has won multiple awards, such as the Wall Street Journal’s Technology-Innovation Award for Healthcare IT and the Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainable Innovation. Magpi has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including, but not limited to agriculture, microfinance, health care, human rights and education. Recent developments include the addition of more visualization and data analysis tools, along with integration tools to other, popularly used platforms like google spreadsheets. With its intuitive interface, customizability, and versatility in the field, Magpi proves to be a highly effective tool for a geographer’s data collection needs.

Check out Magpi’s website here.

Written by Glenn Liu

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