So excited, yet so nervous…

Anyone who has ever run a survey will know the nightmare that is data entry. How can double entry data entry still yield crap results? Oh, let me count the ways.

The last nightmare (in Uganda) was one too many, and I vowed: never again. It was also time to end the medieval and excessive use of paper.

Tomorrow, with 6,750 surveys about to launch in Liberia, I bring you my savior:

What, you ask? Is that a 1990s era Palm Pilot? Why yes it is! Low battery consumption. Easy to use. And best of all: no Internet connectivity for my enumerators to waste time on. (What could be more boring than a calendar application?)

Each survey has about 300 questions programmed in, using a little program called Pendragon. Data entry nightmare: you have been replaced. Thy name is Pendragon. I love my little units. I love the paperless, real time entry. I LOVE getting data downloads the day they are collected. But this little program is keeping me up nights.

Correction: technically, it’s keeping my intrepid RA, Bryan, up nights. But I feel his pain.

What keeps me up is the 0.005% chance we missed something. Forgot a little program code. Planned one too few backup and safety procedure. Paper surveys are, well, paper. You can hold them. Re-enter them. Cross your fingers for my survey integrity…