Secure Data Kit Q3 2020 Release: Feedback Loops, Embedded Dashboards, and Public Data

The COVID pandemic has focused a spotlight on a variety of things affecting the world right now: equitable access to medicine and care, the role of public health in our society, and the importance of reliable, public data. These things helped us understand the importance of how Secure Data Kit can play a role in the world of public health, how we can better utilize data, and most importantly, how we can get clear and actionable data to users and stakeholders as quickly as possible.

With this in mind, we oriented our Q3 release to focus on a few core areas:

Public Projects

With this release you will be able to designate a project in SDK as either public or private. Up until now our platform has been used to run over 3,000 surveillance, impact, and mapping studies in over 60 countries. Every one of those projects has been "private". That is, the data that's collected with our native mobile tools or SMS or uploaded via CSV is available to only certain individuals. For some projects, that's less than 5 people. Our biggest project has over 300 collaborators.

A public project will allow you to do everything you can currently do with Secure Data Kit:
  1. Collect data with our native mobile apps on iPhone and Android.
  2. Manage that data with automated scripts and cleaning libraries
  3. Visualize that data with dashboards

And now you'll be able to share that data publicly here (if you decide to of course). Why though?

Data is in the public interest. I could spend the next 5 hours explaining why non personally identifiable data should be as public as possible. It's why we're starting this by making public a variety of datasets we commonly use or are asked for:
  1. COVID Mapping Project: We source our data from a variety of sources: COVID Tracking, Johns Hopkins, NY Times, Apple (for mobility data). We've pulled data from the Census bureau and others. We're opening all that data up, as well as our own internal calculations on that data like rolling 7 day average, daily case change, etc.

  2. Zip code density: Want to know what the most, and least densely populated zip codes are? See our data!

Most of our public projects will include dashboards so you can easily see the "results" of the data. You can also view the raw data as we collect it, search that data, download it, share it, etc.

For the developers in the audience, we've made all **public** data available via JSON endpoints as well. To access, go to any public records page (e.g. and append .json to the end of the url. POOF! You can automatically integrate the data into your system.

We'll be adding more public data over time. Feel free to drop us a line if there's a dataset you'd like to see.

Embedded, Mobile Dashboards

We're really excited to announce release 3.2.4 of Secure Data Kit our native, mobile app available on Android and iPhone. This is a big release for us as it "completes" a circle we've been working on for the past 3 years. Before we talk about what's in this release, a bit of history.

2018 - Data Collection Made Easy

We started working on Secure Data Kit prior to 2018 but 2018 was the year we saw the app really take hold as a premier tool for conducting surveillance and collecting data in the field. But that's basically all the tool did — collect data. Field personnel would collect the data but never see the byproduct of what they were collecting. This created a 1 way feedback "channel".

2019 — Analytics Made Easy

In 2019 we rolled out tighter analytics integration with Secure Data Kit. Why? To make it simple for our clients to collect data, manage and clean data, and visualize data all in one comprehensive package.

However, the person doing the hard work of collecting the data was still left out of the mix. They would push data in to the system but rarely received any kind of feedback on the quality of the data they were collecting. Or how that data was providing utility in a particular study.

2020 — Completing the Feedback Loop

We solved this feedback loop problem with our most recent release of Secure Data Kit with embedded dashboards. Now the device the data collector carries to the field is not only for data ingestion, it can also be used for data analysis. In real time! How do we do this? Simple, by creating mobile friendly dashboards and analytics that are available on iPhone or Android in the same app used to collect data.

Now, when the person in the field is collecting data, we can make available to them dashboards and reports that help them understand how the data they are collecting is being used. By putting data into context, we believe the quality goes up. And better outcomes come.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to us.
Get Friendly Support