I’d love to see implementers and tool-providers shift away from data collection and towards creating local action. Here’s my reasoning:
1. Especially in the case of mobile technology, data can be a byproduct of action – e.g. clinicians and community health workers can use mobile phones to coordinate patient care, use identifiers, and produce a longitudinal record of care that can be aggregated with other records, analyzed, visualized, etc.
2. These systems involve people. Imagine someone tells you, “Please report, because we need data.” Now imagine they say, instead, “We need information.” Or, “We need to know.” Finally, “We need to act.” Which framing builds the greatest incentive for participation?
3. It takes action to achieve impact. Yes, large data sets that inform policy are important — reiterating my first point, I’d argue we’ll have that data anyway due to the nature of the technology. At the end of the day, for a situation to change, someone needs to do something differently. Our programs should reflect that reality.
Local actors want change through action. Policymakers want data to inform decisions. Luckily, technology can deliver both.