EpiSurveyor is free, open-source software used to collect
data–primarily medical survey data right now, although there’s no
reason other types of data couldn’t be gathered–in areas where medical
data is often out-of-date or incomplete, when it’s even collected at
Because EpiSurveyor is aimed primarily at developing economies, it’s
designed to run on PDAs and mobile phones…and to transmit
collected data back to a central repository via SMS.
In other words, you can put people out into the field and get (almost) real time data on the evolution of a village economy. The data are converted into useful forms right away, and gathering the data is easier in the first place, so the assistants are less likely to shirk. Here is more, here is the associated non-profit, here is a YouTube video. Data gathering is one of the most backward features of the social sciences, so development economists, take note. But should businessmen care as well?
I asked Selanikio what EpiSurveyor could use most right now–besides money, which is always welcome.
"We really need people who could help us develop a sustainable
business model for EpiSurveyor. Ad-supported? Subscription fees? Two
tiers of features? That sort of advice, from people who are truly
qualified to give it, would be very helpful."