Where We Work  |  Program

Open Data Kit (ODK) Scan

VillageReach implemented ODK solutions to enable a more efficient paper-to-digital process, with potential to significantly improve communications by illuminating data through to the “last mile” of the health system.

Dec 22, 2015   |   Blog Post

The Role of Paper to Digital Data Solutions

In response to this article by Dr. Mahad Ibrahim on the role of data during the Ebola outbreak, some interesting questions were sparked among our team. The piece evoked a lot of great insights about the opportunities and challenges the piece addresses, as well as...

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Oct 10, 2014   |   Press Release

VillageReach Receives New Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Improve Health System Data Visibility at the “Last Mile”

VillageReach to partner with University of Washington to transform paper data into a scalable digital system through ODK Scan. SEATTLE, Washington, October 10, 2014– VillageReach, a Seattle-based non-profit that develops, tests, implements and scales global health innovations, has received a $470,000 grant from the...

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Many rural and/or low-income communities worldwide rely on predominantly paper-based systems for supply chain management. The lack of a data reporting system leads to frequent stockouts and an inability to provide treatment and services to patients. ODK Scan is a practical and low-cost mHealth solution that uses an Android application to enable a more efficient paper-to-digital process that can: translate paper data to digital format for more accurate and timely statistical analysis and aggregation; significantly reduce the amount of time health workers spend on manual data input, allowing more time for frontline health service and delivery; and alleviate the burden on health supply chain managers in receiving and analyzing data from paper-based systems.

People inspecting drone in field.

Data collection in Mozambique. (Photo Credit: Paul Joseph Brown)

How It Works

  • Health workers in low-resource settings fill out the paper form as normal, without reliance on additional training, device power supply, or Internet connectivity.
  • Data collection managers take a photo of the form using the built-in camera on their smartphone or tablet.
  • Machine-readable data from the form is automatically digitized using computer vision running on the device.
  • Form fields that are not machine-readable are displayed as image snippets to the user for easy editing and transcription.
  • Data is synchronized to a local or cloud server, providing easy access to aggregated data and customized reports essential to health system decision-makers.

Open Data Kit made open-source mobile data collection software for resource-limited settings, producing two tool suites. LEARN MORE


Report  |  2016

ODK Scan Field Test – TB Registers in Pakistan

Report  |  2015

ODK Scan in Malawi Final Field Test Report

Report  |  2015

ODK Scan Product Recommendations Report

Research  |  2015

Integrating Digital Workflows in Global Development

Fact Sheet  |  2015

ODK Scan Overview

English Press Release

Press Release  |  2015

ODK Grant Announcement

Research  |  2013

Integrating ODK Scan into the Supply Chain in Mozambique

Program Impact

Even with its obvious advantages, a transition to a paperless, strictly-digital data collection and management system is not feasible for low-resource environments with weak information communications infrastructure. These settings need a scalable bridge between hard and soft copy.  ODK Scan is an appropriate solution in this context as it allows organizations and institutions to continue to use inexpensive, familiar paper forms while adding an easy to use technology to improve the efficiency of the paper-based system. ODK Scan has garnered interest from a wide range of sectors, including vaccine logistics, maternal health, applied psychology, education, and capacity building:


  • Two field tests in Mozambique with vaccine statistics and medical supply forms tested bubble and checkbox accuracy and provided essential usability feedback from community health workers.
  • Development work in 2014 added handwritten number and QR code recognition, as well as improved accuracy in the detection classifiers.
  • Locally-based field testing with a University of Washington Psychology Department project proved usability and technological relevance even in high-resource environments.
  • Two more field deployments are planned in 2015, specifically targeting low resource settings where other means of digitization are inaccessible.
  • ODK Scan beta was released in Spring 2015 as open source for public use.


Technical Partners

  • University of Washington Department of Computer Science and Engineering


  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Related Global Impact

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