Collecting and Submitting Data (4.x)

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Submitting data to ELMO Online
Submitting data via tablet and smart phone
Submitting data via SMS
Reviewing data received by observers


Submitting data to ELMO Online

Once a form has been created and published, administrators, coordinators, and observers can access the form online, read and answer questions, and submit the form when completed. ELMO Online allows all computer users with a browser and Internet or wireless connection to submit and review data in the field and headquarters.

To submit a response to an existing form:

  1. Click the Submit tab on the main menu bar of ELMO, and select a form from the drop-down menu
  2. Complete any remaining questions on the form when prompted
  3. Click Are there missing required answers? if applicable
    1. View or edit responses on the Responses page by clicking Responses on the main menu bar. Once on the Responses page, select the corresponding pencil icon to edit responses


Submitting data via tablet and smart phone

Getting connected

Tablets can connect to the ELMO database through a mobile network or through wifi. As soon as completed checklists are sent to the ELMO database they can be processed by headquarters in real time.

On most tablets, the data connection indicator can be found on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, next to the battery indicator. When the device has a data connection, an indicator will be visible in the form of a letter (E, G, G+, etc.), the letter indicating the strength of the connection for that particular tablet.

The Carter Center preloads tablets with Data Enabler for use on missions. Data Enabler allows tablet users to quickly turn off a data connection (and save battery life) when a form is not being downloaded or sent. External users can download Data Enabler, or other similar applications, via a tablet’s default application marketplace.

Credentials and blank forms

Tablet users connect to ELMO via ODK Collect – an open-source application used for data collection – with a valid ELMO username and password. To acquire an ELMO username and password, a request must be sent to the mission’s ELMO administrator in person or via email.

To access ELMO:

      1. Ensure a data connection is established
      2. Click the ODK Collect button from the home screen of your tablet
      3. A screen with several options (Fill Blank Form, Edit Saved Form, etc.) will be visible
      4. Click the top right corner button, which will give you the option of clicking General Settings or Admin Settings. Click General Settings.
      5. To enter credentials, click the Configure Platform Settings button
      6. Enter the appropriate URL of the database and mission under URL according to the following format: https://elmo.sassafras.coop/m/{mission name}
        1. If the mission name has a space (i.e. “ELMO Test Mission”), remove the spaces between to create the {mission-name}, e.g. elmotestmission
        2. e.g. the Mission ‘ELMO Test Mission’ the URL would be: https://elmo.sassafras.coop/m/ELMOTestMission
        3. e.g. running the Carter Center’s test mission ‘Panglossia,’ the URL will be: https://elmo.sassafras.coop/m/panglossia
      1. After inputting the correct URL for your mission, enter your username and password.

**Note: The URL of the database to be used by a mission depends on what host the mission is using. Missions outside of the Carter Center will likely have their own hosting services and need to use a different URL from the one in the example above.

To download a checklist:

      1. Go to Get Blank Forms
      2. All the forms that have been uploaded from ELMO Online are now visible
      3. Select the desired forms to download and click Get Selected
      4. A dialogue box stating that the download was successful will appear
      5. Click the back button to return to the home screen
      6. One blank form may be used for many submissions

**Note: A box may pop up asking for confirmation of username and password. If entered previously into the settings, it should appear correctly. If not, type the correct password and continue.

Filling out forms

A data connection is not required for filling out forms once they have been downloaded through ODK.

To fill out forms:

      1. From the ODK home screen, select Fill Blank Form
      2. Select the appropriate form
      3. Swipe to move from question to question
      4. To obtain a GPS location, a clear view of the sky is often required. Outdoors is preferable. If indoors, stand by the nearest window
      5. Select Record Location and wait until an accurate readout has been obtained (100m or less)
      6. To save a partially complete form, select the Go To Prompt (the arrow in the top right corner of the screen)
      7. Select Go to End of Form
      8. Ensure that the Finalized Form option is unchecked and save the form
      9. To open a saved but incomplete form, select Edit Saved Form from the ODK home screen and select the appropriate form
      10. Save a form at any time by pressing the Save icon (floppy disk) at the top right side of the screen

To continue filling out or editing a saved form:

      1. Click and open ODK Collect
      2. Click Edit Saved Form
      3. Select the form desired
      4. The Go To Prompt screen may become visible: proceed from here as normal

Finalizing and sending forms

Forms cannot be sent to the database until they have been completed and marked as finalized, and the data connection has been established, either through a mobile network or WiFi.

To finalize a form:

      1. Once the form has been completed, verify that the box labeled Mark Form as Finalized is checked on the last screen
      2. Click Save Form
      3. Verify that the tablet has a data connection
      4. When the finalized form is saved, the ODK home screen will be visible
      5. Select Send Finalized Forms
      6. Check the finalized forms to send (note the green check mark)
      7. Click Send Selected

**Note: The form can only be finalized when all required questions are answered. The program will go back to any questions that have not been answered. After answering the missed questions, use the Go To Prompt function to return to the end of the form.

If asked for credentials when sending, click OK and wait for sending to finish. A success message will appear when the form is sent. If the success message does not appear, the form was not sent. Please try again.

**Hint: When the data connection is weak or non-existent, you can save multiple finalized forms until a better wifi or wireless connectivity is available and then send all at once. When the mission requires forms to be sent as soon as possible, and the connection is weak, it is helpful to send forms individually.

For information on using the override code to allow incomplete forms submission, see the additional features section.


Submitting data via SMS

Election observation missions are frequently deployed to remote locations that lack the necessary infrastructure to report using an Internet connection. ELMO SMS is used to overcome these obstacles and to ensure timely reporting. ELMO SMS allows observers to submit data using basic cellular networks via mobile phone or tablet. This feature allows ELMO users to rapidly collect, submit, and analyze data even in the absence of consistent wireless Internet access.

An observer in the field using ELMO SMS will require:

      • A mobile device or tablet with a SIM card and texting capabilities
      • The ELMO SMS Composition Guide available from ELMO online

Observers report via SMS by sending text message responses of their observations to the assigned ELMO SMS server number (assigned to observers by project staff). Messages include a unique code (found at the top of the downloaded form) and responses to the questions typed and spaced according to SMS Guide Form instructions.

Responding to ELMO using the SMS Composition Guide

Below is a sample SMS Composition Guide. Although an example, it resembles what an observer would download from ELMO online and use in the field. In an actual SMS Composition Guide, there will be a phone number listed at the bottom of the page that the SMS should be sent to. Note on the form:

      • This form is available in more than one language, as shown through the pull-down menu in the upper left corner
      • The unique code which should start every SMS submission to ELMO
      • Answers are separated by a space, the number of the question, and a period
      • Answers to the completed questions are entered in red on the right hand side of the guide

SMS Capture

In the case of the sample guide above, the observer should text:

xwx 1.a 2.b 3.a 4.a 5.a 6.e 7.b

Specific steps for sending the above form to the ELMO server are as follows:

      1. Open the SMS application on a mobile device
      2. Enter the contents of each line on the right side of each page of the Composition Guide, going from top to bottom. Be careful that each line of text is entered correctly
      3. Each answer is separated by a space. Enter only a single space between each question. Do not add extra spaces
      4. Once typed, ensure that the message matches the form
      5. Send the message and wait for a response
      6. If a response is not received within five minutes, send the message again

In instances where multiple-choice, date, time, integer, or text responses are requested (for example time of day) that cannot be texted back as a single-letter response (a,b,c,d,e, etc.), responses follow the same rules as with a single letter. Hints for correct submission are available for each question.

      • As an example if the two beginning questions on the form were: 1) What is the date? 2) What time of the day was the form completed? And the answers were 3/3/2014 at 1700hrs, the observer would text:xwx 1.3/3/2014 2.1700

Using the SMS Test Console

The SMS Test Console is an easy way to test how ELMO will respond to texts from observers for a particular form, in advance of actually testing submissions via a cell phone. It is a free way to confirm that the form will work the way it was intended.

To use the SMS Test Console:

      1. Click on the console link at the top left side of an open SMS Composition Guide (located to the right of the language selection box)
      2. In the From text space, enter the telephone number of a user currently in the system. (This is to avoid the error message when an SMS from a non-validated user is received. Either the number of an existing user can be used, or a test user account with test number can be created for testing purposes.)
      3. In the Body textbox, enter in a text explained in the Responding to ELMO using the SMS Composition Guide above
      4. Click the Submit button
      5. Review the response either by looking below the Body textbox or by going to the Responses page and clicking on the related Response ID Number, located in the left hand column of the page
      6. To edit responses, return to the Forms page and select the appropriate form for editing

Setting up ELMO SMS for use with IntelliSMS

In order to set up ELMO to work with IntelliSMS, you will need:

      • An account with IntelliSMS with credits (this is for sending messages through ELMO to observers)
      • A dedicated IntelliSMS number to receive SMS messages (this is for the phone number to which observers can submit data)

Instructions for setting up an account are available on the IntelliSMS website. In order to create a dedicated UK number for incoming SMS messages, contact their sales department.

Note: IntelliSMS only offers UK numbers, and may be more expensive than finding an in-country provider. You may be interested in the FrontlineSMS option below or exploring avenues that require coding for different country contexts; contact us for more information.

Once you have the relevant IntelliSMS information:

      1. Click on Settings within your mission
      2. Type in the incoming number in the textbox provided (e.g. +44XXXXXXX),
      3. Select IntelliSms as the outgoing provider
      4. Type in your IntelliSMS account name in the Username textbox
      5. And enter the password where directed
      6. Click the Save button

The mission should now be able to accept and send SMS messages.

Setting up ELMO SMS for use with FrontlineSMS

In order to set up ELMO SMS for use with a local country number, it is possible to use FrontlineSMS software to do this. FrontlineSMS will require:

      • The latest version of FrontlineSMS version 1.x installed on a local computer (note: for ELMO, it must be version 1.x in order for ELMO system messages to be returned to the observer)
      • A GSM modem
      • A SIM card with a local phone number and credits for data

For more specifics on how FrontlineSMS and how to set it up, please refer to their documentation here.

Once FrontlineSMS is up and running, enter the following configurations:

      1. Click on the Keyword tab,
      2. Click on the keyword,
      3. In the section that appears to the right, click on the link click here to go to advanced view,
      4. From the Auto Reply pulldown that appears at the bottom of the window, select External Command
      5. In the Command textbox enter the following {SERVER_URL}/m/{MISSION_SHORT_NAME}/sms/submit?frontline=1&from=${sender_number}&text=${message_content}
        where {SERVER_URL} is the location of the ELMO database and {MISSION_SHORT_NAME} is the relevant mission’s short name
      6. In the What to do with Response textbox, enter ${command_response}
      7. Click Done

Upon connection with FrontlineSMS, ELMO now knows how to receive SMS texts at the GSM modem number from observers, and also how to send back any response messages.

The SMS Log

When administrators view a mission via ELMO Online, there is a link to the SMS Log in the footer of the webpage. Clicking on the link reveals the log of the SMS responses received by a given mission. The log is a useful troubleshooting tool when trying to understand when and how observers may be experiencing difficulty in submitting their forms.


Reviewing data submitted by observers

There are two ways to review responses in ELMO Online. The first is from the Dashboard. The Dashboard will display the most recently submitted responses. The second way to review a response is through the Responses page. The Responses page will display all older responses that do not appear on the Dashboard.

To review a response from the Dashboard:

      1. Under the Latest Responses quadrant, click either Submission Time or the status for Reviewed?
      2. Click Edit This Response

To review a response from the Responses page click the pencil icon for the corresponding response that requires review.

Once on the Edit Response page the user can review data submitted by observers, identify where data might be missing, and clean any erroneous answers, as appropriate. Some information and irregularities may require that the user be in communication with the observer or observer team that collected the data. Observers can be reached through contact information in their user profile, or through broadcasts. For more information see the documentation on Broadcasts.

Once the appropriate changes to a response are completed (if needed), either check the box Reviewed? and save the response, or select Save and Mark as Reviewed. For more information on searching responses see the documentation Using the Search Function.