What we’ve learnt about sharing real-time data

Simone Lombardini General, ICT4D, Real Geek, Research

At Oxfam we are continually developing our use of digital technology for surveys. Here Simone Lombardini and Emily Tomkys Valteri reflect on lessons learnt from the process of using and sharing real-time data during fieldwork to conduct Oxfam’s Effectiveness Reviews.

In 2015 Oxfam’s Impact Evaluation Advisers started using digital devices to conduct household surveys for Oxfam’s Effectiveness Reviews (ex-post, quasi-experimental impact evaluations) – moving from primarily pen-and-paper interviewing to computer-assisted personal interviewing. Details of our experience in making this transition are shared in the discussion paper Going Digital: Using digital technology to conduct Oxfam’s Effectiveness Reviews.  One of our former Oxfam Evaluation Advisor’s also conducted a study comparing these two approaches.

Two years on, we have now conducted individual and household surveys using digital devices in more than 18 countries for the Effectiveness Reviews. At this year’s ICT4Eval conference, held in June in Rome and organised by IFAD’s Independent Evaluation Office, we shared three cases to help illustrate the benefits we’re seeing, and discuss some of challenges we faced and lessons we have learnt along the way.

In many of these data collection processes, we took advantage of features provided by digital devices to pilot solutions that would help to increase data quality, knowledge dissemination, participation and engagement. One of these features is the possibility to process data in real-time, while data collection is still underway.

Our experience is that using and sharing real-time data while fieldwork is still underway has the potential to increase engagement and community participation with survey respondents. It further supports knowledge sharing, and helps to enable greater integration between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques for an evaluation prospective.

To find out more you can download our report on Using and sharing real-time data during fieldwork, or watch the conference presentation.


Simone Lombardini


Emily Tomkys Valteri