Monthly Archives: February 2013

Announcement of Smap Release – February 2013



The february release of Smap is out of development and undergoing pre-release testing.

New Features:

  1. Multi-projects.  A user with administrator privilege can now create a new project and assign users to that project.  This allows you to manage separation of projects on the same server.  A user will only see the survey templates and results for the projects that they are assigned.
  2. Pictures, videos and audio can be included as survey questions or options.  Any or all of these media types can be added, along with text, to help an enumerator in completing a survey.  This capability has been on the phone for a while as it is part of odkCollect.  However the ability to manage this media on the server is new.  (video)
  3. Publish reports to a Facebook group.  This extends the current ability to publish a report via email.  A menu option named “Discuss” has also been added to allow you to link to a new Facebook app from Smap Consulting, that summarises the discussions on the reports as a word cloud and shows the locations of reports on a map.  (video)
  4. Added ability to specify an export of data as XLS or CSV.  For XLS exports the following formatting is now applied:

  • Dates.  Formatted correctly for excel and always set to GMT.  To change the timezone in excel add the hours difference divided by 24.  You can now do calculations such as subtracting _start from _end to get the duration of the survey.
  • _device formatted as number so it does not show as scientific notation by default.
  • Links added to locations.  If you click on the link it will show on a map where the survey was completed.
  • Links added to pictures, video and audio.

Bugs Fixed

  1. Hourglasses were not always being shown when the system was busy
  2. Name of survey in monitor screen was not being shown.
  3. Could not filter by survey name in monitor screen.Burn Down Chart
  4. Running out of database connections under heavy load

This diagram is of the project burn down and is taken from Acunote, which is a great tool for managing Agile projects. The chart shows the rate of progress across the month and confirms that development was completed on time.  Of course any tasks that could not be done prior to the release date, and that could be moved, were simply put into the sprint for the March release.  Completing “on time” for an agile project is usually a given!

Real Time Assessments

Stuart Thomson has put up a great site Desire Lines for Change showing how the  Smap software can be used to contribute to community discussions and decision making.  This fits well with one of the principles on which the software has been developed.

The idea came from when I worked at Rolls Royce aero engines R&D labs back in the early 80’s. Royces had this concept of assessing in real time whether or not an engine test was successful,  real time was defined as 20 minutes.  Within this time it had to be possible to decide if the test was successful and whether or not we could move on to the next test.  The totality of the data from the test, which could be very large,  would however be analysed over weeks, months and even years in order to contribute to engine design decisions.  If this data was going to be useful then we had to know if we had done enough cycles and the engine was run within the required parameters.  The diagram below shows the principle.

real time

The Smap mobile phones software is intended to contribute to this sort of real time assessment shown as the green 20 minute cycle in the picture above.  The data is collected and can then be analysed in the dashboard which may result in requests for more data.  Once the data is assessed as sound it can then be exported and analysed in a statistical analysis package or a GIS system over much longer periods of time.

Similarly as described in Desire Lines for Change, an initial assessment with the mobile phones can be made.  The data can be analysed and checked using the dashboard.  It can then be posted into a community forum to prompt an ongoing discussion, the results of which can be used in subsequent design decisions.