Version 5 Documentation

1.Getting Started

1.1. What is ELMO?

ELMO is The Carter Center’s open-source ELection MOnitoring data collection and reporting system, built specifically with election monitoring in mind. Equipped with ELMO, observers can submit evaluations of a process – via tablets (utilizing Open Data Kit), SMS, or directly online – in real-time to field or mission headquarters. ELMO’s reporting system organizes observer findings, and is relied upon by The Carter Center missions around the globe to analyze data and to assess elections as well as broader political processes.

The open source license for ELMO is Apache 2.0. ELMO can be hosted on personal servers and users can control who has access to the data.

1.2. System Requirements

ELMO Development Setup

1.3. Viewing the Header

The header is the top section of the screen. Here are its components:

  1. The Home icon. Click this to return to the home page of the selected field project or mission.
  2. The mission selection box. Click this to display all missions that can be accessed by the user. Click on a mission to go to its home page, or click the box again to hide the list.
  3. The Admin Mode icon (Admins only). Click this to enter Admin Mode. The header in this mode looks different, but the function of each icon is the same. There are only two new icons, the functions of which will be discussed later.
  4. The edit profile icon. The icon shows your username and role. Click this to edit your profile.
  5. The Logout icon. Click this to log out of ELMO.
  6. The Submit menu. Click this to display a list of all published forms within the current mission. Click a form to fill it out and submit it, or click the menu again to hide the list.
  7. The Responses menu. Click this to go to the Responses page, which shows all responses that have been submitted to all forms within the mission.
  8. The Reports menu. Click this to go to the Reports page, where you can generate reports and see all of the reports that have already been generated within the mission.
  9. The Forms menu. Click this to go to the Forms page, where you can create and import forms and see all of the forms that have already been created in or imported to the mission.
  10. The Questions menu. Click this to go to the Questions page, where you can create and import questions and see all of the questions that have already been created in or imported to the mission.
  11. The Option Sets menu. Click this to go to the Option Sets page, where you can create or import option sets and see all of the reports that have already been created in or imported to the mission.
  12. The Users menu. Click this to go to the Users page, where you can:
    1. Create new users.
    2. See information on all users that have already been created.
    3. Export user information as a vCard.
    4. Send a broadcast to one or more users.
  13. The Broadcasts menu. Click this to go to the Broadcasts page, where you can send a broadcast to users and view broadcasts that have already been sent.
  14. The SMS menu. Click this to view all SMSes that have been sent and received by ELMO.
  15. The Settings menu. Click this to view and change your personal settings.

This is the version that Admins will see in Admin Mode:

There are only two new components:

  1. The Exit Admin Mode icon. Click this to exit admin mode.
  2. The Missions menu. Click this to go to the Missions page, where you can create a new mission and see all missions that have already been created.

1.4. Viewing the Footer

Bottom header edited

The footer is the bottom section of the screen. Here are its components:

  1. The Language menu. Click Change Language to reveal a list of all languages available. Click a different language to access that language’s online version of ELMO, or click the current language to close the list. Change Language will not return, but you can click on the current language to reveal the list again.
  2. The time zone the user has selected. This can be changed in the Settings menu.
  3. The outgoing SMS provider for the current mission (not shown in Admin mode).
  4. The current version number of ELMO being used.
  5. The About ELMO icon. Click this to go to

Note: ELMO online languages are slowly being built and increasing through volunteer efforts. Although the languages available of these are limited, ELMO is multilingual ready (ISO 639-2 standard) for questions and forms. The list of available languages is here.

1.5. Viewing the Dashboard


The first visible screen when logged into ELMO is the Dashboard. This feature gives an overview of data gathered from responses to forms. Visible on the Dashboard screen are:

  1. Recent form responses
  2. An overview of geographic data submitted with responses
  3. An overview of all form submissions
  4. All reports created in the mission

Note: The report with the most views will appear at the initial Dashboard screen

2.Setting up a Mission

Every instance of an ELMO database allows administrators to organize field projects into areas called missions. For example, if you have a project going on in two different countries, with different reporters or observers, you may want to have two different missions: Country 1 and Country 2.

2.0. Create a Mission (Admin only)

Only administrators are able to work in ELMO in Mission Mode or Admin Mode with an overall view of all missions; everyone else must be assigned to a unique Mission. To create a mission, the Admin Mode must be activated. To activate Admin Mode, click the Admin Mode menu located in the top right corner of the screen. To create a mission:

  1. Click the Missions menu located on the main menu bar at the top of the Admin Mode page
  2. Once on the Missions page, click the orange Create Mission link
  3. Enter a name for the mission: use only letters, numbers, and spaces
    1. Mission names usually include the country name and the year (i.e. Kenya 2013)
    2. Administrators have the option to lock a mission. When a mission is locked, Responses and Forms cannot be created or edited, and users cannot be added or deleted. To lock a mission, click the box labeled “Locked?
    3. Click the Save button to save changes
  4. Click Exit Admin Mode to return to Mission Mode
  5. To locate the recently created mission, select the title of the mission in the drop down menu found in the top right corner, right of the Admin Mode selection
  6. To set the appropriate time zone and language(s) for the mission, click the Settings menulocated on the main menu bar

    Note: To edit the name of a mission or to lock/unlock a mission after it has been created, Admin Mode must be activated. Once activated, click the Pencil icon ( Pencil Blue ) (edit option) located to the right of the mission to be edited.

2.1.User Permission Levels

ELMO has four kinds of user levels – observer, staffer, coordinator, and administrator. Each user level has a different set of permissions based on the functions they are expected to perform during ELMO missions.

User Roles

2.2.Create Users

Create, delete, edit, and manage users on the Users page. Administrators can create general users in Admin Mode and assign them to specific missions, or they can create users for specific missions in Mission Mode. Coordinators can only create new users in Mission Mode.

To create new users:

  1. Determine whether to work in Admin Mode or Mission Mode,
  2. Navigate to the Users page by clicking the Users menu on the main menu
  3. Click Create User (located in orange text below the search bar)New-user
  4. On the Create User page, new user information can be entered, including:
    1. The user’s full name *required*
    2. The login/username (click the suggest button to suggest a login name) *required*
    3. The user’s email
    4. The user’s phone number (must include country code)
    5. Whether the user is “active”
    6. The user’s role: observer, staffer, coordinator, administrator *required*
    7. The user’s mission assignment(s) (Admin Mode only)
    8. The user’s preferred language(s)
    9. Notes about the user
    10. Preferences for password set-up for the user’s account (i.e.: password instructions delivered via email or printed out)
  5. Click Save.

2.3.Create multiple users (ideal for adding a large number of users)

  1. Click Create Multiple Users
  2. Upload a spreadsheet with information for the new users.
    1. Click “Spreadsheet template” to download an example spreadsheet with the correct formatting for uploading multiple users.
      1. Outside of ELMO create a CSV or XLS file
      2. In the first row, include each of the following in its own column: Username | Full Name | Main Phone | Alternate Phone | Email | Notes
        Create Multiple Users
  3. Click Import.

2.4.Manage existing users

  1. To edit existing user information:
    1. find the user in the list of users, and
    2. Click on the Pencil icon ( Pencil Black ) located on the same line as the name (the second icon from the right).
    3. Click Save.
  2. To export users’ information to a vCard, which is readable in Microsoft Outlook:
    1. Find each user whose vCard will be exported
    2. Check the box to the left of their name.
    3. Click on Export as vCard
  3. To delete existing users:
    1. To delete a single user, click the Trashcan icon ( Trashcan Black ), located to the right of the Pencil icon ( Pencil Black )
    2. To delete multiple users, check the box to the left of their name and click Delete Multiple Users.
  4. To send an email or SMS broadcast to users:
    1. Check the boxes next to each user to contact
    2. Click Send Broadcast (to the left of Export as vCard). This redirects to a page where you can define the medium, subject, and content of the broadcast.

2.5.Export VCard

To export users’ information to a vCard, which is readable in Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Find each user whose vCard will be exported
  2. Check the box to the left of their name
  3. Click on Export as vCard

2.6.User Groups

In ELMO versions 5.7 and up, users can be placed into groups. Placing users into groups makes it easier to search for users and send broadcasts to them. To create a group of users:

  1. Add multiple users to a mission
  2. Click the Users tab
  3. Check the box next to each user to be placed into the group
  4. Click Add Users to Group
  5. Click Create New User Group
  6. Type the name of the group and click OK
  7. Click the name of the group

To add users to a preexisting group, follow the same steps as above, but skip numbers 5 and 6.

To view user groups, go to the Users tab and click List User Groups. In the list, you can click:

  1. List Members: click this to view a list of all users in the group
  2. Pencil icon (Pencil Black): click this to change the name of the user group
  3. Trashcan icon (Trashcan Black): click this to delete the user group


Settings are where you can define language preferences and SMS information for each mission.

  1. Select the title of the mission in the drop down menu found in the top right corner, right of the Admin Mode selection
  2. Select the Settings menu

Time Zone

  1. Set the appropriate time zone

Preferred Languages

  1. Set the language(s) for the mission. This allows questions and forms to be defined in multiple languages for each mission, but it does not change the entire web interface of ELMO (defined in “Viewing the Footer” section above).
    1. Enter the two-letter language code for the language (example: Arabic = ar; Chinese = zh). A list of ELMO compatible language codes can be found at this website:
    2. If multiple codes exist, type them in the preferred order of use and separate them with a comma (example: ar, zh)
      multiple preferred langs
    3. In this example, the mission’s primary language will be Arabic; Chinese will be used where Arabic is not available

3.1.Override Code

  1. Generate an Override Code
    1. Click on the Generate button to set an override code. This code should be given to observers if the ability to send incomplete responses is needed. Users are not allowed to submit incomplete responses without this code when using the ODK app. (See section  for more detail)
    2. Click on the Regenerate button to create a new override code if desired.
    3. If generating a new code, please record the old code if there are previous live forms. The new code will only work for forms downloaded after the code is regenerated.
  2. Choose whether to allow unauthenticated submissions.

3.2.Shared SMS settings

Indepth information about SMS setup is available in the section for Administrators below.

  1. Shared SMS settings:
    1. Incoming Number(s):
      1. Enter the phone number(s) to which incoming SMSes for SMS forms should be sent. This field will be displayed, verbatim, on the SMS guide. Only needed if using SMS submissions
    2. Incoming SMS Token:
      1. This token is included in the URL used by the incoming SMS provider to prevent the submission of unauthorized messages.
      2. Click on “How do I use this?” for further instructions.
      3. Register the incoming SMS URL with your gateway provider
      4. Copy the URL from the pop up screen
    3. Default Outgoing Provider:
      1. The adapter used to send outgoing SMSes. Note that SMS replies may be sent out via a different adapter, depending on the adapter by which they arrived.
      2. Our current provider choices are IntelliSMS and Twilio (refer to section  for how to set this up)
  2. IntelliSMS Settings:
    1. Enter the username for the IntelliSMS account
  3. FrontlineCloud Settings:
    1. Click Change API Key and enter the API Key for the FrontlineCloud activity
  4. Twilio Settings:
    1. Enter the outgoing number
      1. This is the phone number registered with Twilio. Outgoing SMS broadcasts won’t work unless this number is owned by your Twilio account. This number must include the country code. Example: +25680344523
    2. Enter the account SID:
      1. This is the account SID for the Twilio account
      2. If needed, click Change Auth Token to change the auth token for the Twilio account.
  5. Click Save to keep any settings.

4.Forms: Overall

Overall structure of Forms

Forms, Questions, and Option Sets can all be standardized in ELMO. Standard Forms, Questions, and Option Sets eliminate the need for observation groups to remake checklists for every mission, and allows users to compare findings across missions. While election administration is largely similar from country to country, specific regulations can vary by country, and so should the design of the form, the questions in it, and the answers available. ELMO allows for customized design of forms for the mission at hand.

Standardization in ELMO Forms is a major aspect of The Carter Center’s overall Democratic Election Standards project. The project aims to build consensus on obligations for democratic elections and on detailed criteria for assessment by advancing the evolution of standards for democratic elections and increasing shared knowledge on election integrity, election observation, and democracy promotion. To do so, the project uses a framework of obligations derived from public international law, collaborates with the international elections community, and develops practical tools – like ELMO – for observers to assess elections. Standard Forms, Questions, and Option Sets not only allow for ease of mission development, but also are used by The Carter Center to increase coordination between the international elections community and human rights mechanisms, providing capacity-building on international obligations to civil society groups, build consensus on common indicators for election quality with the academic community, measure the impact of election observation, and maintain and develop shared knowledge on observation methodology.

Building a new form involves the following steps:

  1. Creating a new form
  2. Creating questions for the form
  3. Depending on the question type, creating option sets for those question
Form flowchart

In ELMO, these steps can be done in any order. In addition, forms, questions, and option sets can be reused both within a mission and across missions, depending on whether they are created in Mission Mode or Admin Mode. They can also be edited at any time.

4.1.Forms menu

The Forms menu lists all the available forms for a mission. These are the components:forms tab edited

forms tab edited inset
  1. Create New Form: click this to create a new form
  2. SMS Test Console: click this to test form submission via SMS
  3. Import Standard Forms: click this to import standard forms to the mission; these forms can be edited within the mission
  4. Once a form has been created, these components appear on the Forms menu: 

  5. Version: this column shows the version numbers of the forms that have been published
  6. Name: this column shows the name of each form
  7. Questions: this column shows the number of questions in each form
  8. Published?: this column displays a Yes if a form has been published, and a No if it has not been published
  9. Downloads: this column shows the number of times each form has been downloaded
  10. Responses: this column shows the number of responses to each form that have been submitted
  11. SMSable?: this column displays a Yes if a form can be submitted via SMS, and a No if it cannot be submitted via SMS
  12. Allow Incomplete?: this column displays a Yes if a form allows incomplete submissions, and a No if it does not allow incomplete submissions
  13. Last Modified: this column shows the date and the time that each form was last edited
  14. The Edit icon: click this to edit the form in this row
  15. The Delete icon: click this to delete the form in this row; this can only be done for forms that are unpublished
  16. The Publish icon: click this to publish the form in this row; this can only be done for forms that are unpublished
  17. The Unpublish icon: click this to unpublish the form in this row; this can only be done for forms that are published
  18. The Clone icon: click this to create an identical copy of the form in this row
  19. The Print icon: click this to print the form in this row

In Admin Mode, the Forms menu only contains the following components:

  1. Create New Form
  2. Name
  3. Questions
  4. Copies: this column shows the number of missions each form has been imported to
  5. Copy Responses: this column shows the number of responses to each form that have been submitted across all
  6. Last Modified
  7. The Edit icon
  8. The Delete icon
  9. The Clone icon
  10. The Print icon

4.2.Importing Standard Forms

Forms used on different missions often contain similar or even identical questions. In ELMO’s Admin Mode, administrator-level users can create standard forms, questions, and option sets that remain stored in the ELMO system and can be imported into any mission. The option to import standard forms eliminates the need to create new forms for every mission. Standard forms also allow for an easier comparison of data across missions. Mission staff should import the standard versions of option sets, questions, and forms that are not country specific and are used repeatedly, such as the question “How many ballots were spoiled?” or the Option Set “Yes/No/N/A/Didn’t observe.”

To import a Standard Form:

  1. Go to the Forms menu in the mission
  2. Click Import Standard Forms
  3. Choose Forms to import to the mission

NOTE: Remember to select Admin Mode to create standard forms. If the Admin Mode link does not appear on the screen, permission is not granted to create standard forms. ELMO Administrators can create and edit standard forms, standard questions, and standard option sets with the same actions used for general forms, questions, and option sets, but these actions must be performed in Admin Mode.

4.3.Creating a General Form

Forms are composed of questions. Some questions require users to select from a set of previously-defined responses (multiple choice, yes/no, etc.), while others require the user to enter text or numeric values. Building a new form involves the following steps: creating a new form; creating questions for the form; and depending on the user’s needs, creating option sets for those questions. In ELMO, these steps can be done in any order.

1. To create a new Form:

  1. Go to the Forms page by clicking on the Forms menu on the main menu bar
  2. Click the Create Form link located under the Page title
    1. Give the form a name.

    That’s all you have to do, but if you want to do more, click More Settings:

    1. Check the SMSable box if you want to be able to receive responses to the form via SMS
    2. Check the Allow Incomplete box to allow forms to be submitted without required questions filled in. This is not typically desired, but an option if necessary
  3. Click Save

2. To add questions to the Form:

  1. Return to the Forms page
  2. Click the Pencil icon ( Pencil Black )  located on the same line as the desired form
  3. Click the Add Questions icon:
    1. Select from existing questions in the question bank
    2. Create a new question to add to the Form (see Questions section below for detailed instructions)
  4. Click Save when finished editing

4.4.Creating Groups and Grids

A new feature in ELMO 5.x is the ability to create and sort groups of questions. Groups, in essence, keep questions together so that they appear on the same page. This feature serves several purposes, including:

  1. Making it easier for administrators to create and sort questions within forms.
  2. Making it easier for users to fill out forms by:
    1. placing multiple questions on one page, thereby reducing the number of times a person has to swipe, and
    2. creating “grids” with Select One questions (see below), to make it easier to answer related questions at once.

Here is an example of a few groups:

Group Example

Note that questions do not have to be part of a group, nor does a group have to consist of multiple questions. A group can have one question or no questions, but this would make the group redundant.

Groups have some restrictions:

  1. Groups cannot be placed within questions or other groups.
  2. Groups cannot be made conditional or hold both conditional questions and the questions that trigger them.

To create a form with groups:

To create a group instructions edited
  1. Create a form
  2. Create or add questions to the form
  3. Create at least one group
    1. Click Add Group
    2. Give the group a unique name
    3. Click Save
  4. Click and drag the questions in the desired order of appearance, with the first question on top and the last one on the bottom
  5. Repeat step 4 for the groups. Groups must be placed directly above the first question that is intended to appear within that group
  6.  Drag questions intended for groups to the right so that they appear indented in relation to the group. If a question is intended to appear by itself, do not drag it right; leave it where it is
  7. Click Save to save the form, or click Save and Publish if the form is ready to be used

Groups can be used to create grids, an example of which is shown below.


Grids can only be created under certain conditions:

  1. Questions must be in the same group.
  2. Questions must be “Select One” questions.
  3. Questions must have the same option set.

To create a grid:

  1. Create a form.
  2. Create a group.
  3. Place “Select One” questions with the same option set in the group.
  4. Click Save to save the form, or click Save and Publish if the form is ready to be used.

4.5.Creating a Standard Form

The process of creating a Standard Form is similar to that of creating a General Form. To create a Standard Form:

  1. Click Admin Mode
  2. Click the Forms menu
  3. Click Create New Form
  4. Type a name for the form in the text box next to Name
  5. Click Save
    create standard form edited
  6. Click Add Questions to add questions to the form
  7. Click Add Groups to add groups to the form
  8. Click Save
    standard form add questions edited

4.6.Publishing a Form

Once a form has been created, it must be published before it can be accessed by observers, completed, and submitted. To publish a form:

  1. Click the Forms menu in the main menu bar
  2. Select the form in the list that appears on the page
  3. On the right side of the page, click the upward-pointing arrow located on the same line as the form to publish
publish forms edited

4.7.Printing Forms

ELMO allows for forms and data to be printed. In the field, a hardcopy of forms, particularly the SMS Composition Guide, are required by observers in order to report. Note that you may have to turn on background printing in your browser.

To print:

  1. In either Admin or Mission Mode, click the Forms menu
  2. Click on the form to print
  3. Click Print Form (shown below)
    print form icon

5.Forms: Questions

To create and import questions to a mission, navigate to the Questions page by clicking on the Questions menu on the main menu bar.

Note: When creating a new question within the form, there are three options for questions available: conditional, hidden and required. Each of these options affects how the form is filled out by the user in the field. A question can be:

  • Conditional: whether or not it appears in the form is dependent upon how a previous question is answered
  • Hidden: it is not shown on the form – only to be used if it cannot be deleted
  • Required: it must be answered in order to submit the completed form, unless an override code is provided

5.1.Create a Question

create new question edited

To create a question that will be used for the current mission:

  1. Click on the Create Question link (in orange text)
  2. Provide a unique name for the question in the box labeled Code. Normal users (in this case, users with the title of Observer) will not see this box
  3. Select the Type of response needed for the question from the following options:

5.2.Types of questions

Text Text designed with a shorter character limit, specifically used for SMS
Long Text Text designed for paragraphs rather than simple phrases/sentences
Integer This is a numeric answer that must be a whole number without decimals
Decimal This is numeric answer that allows for decimals
Location This question may be answered with a GPS coordinate derived from the user’s device (e.g. tablet with GPS)
Select One Only one answer may be selected from a multiple choice Option Set
Select Multiple Multiple answers may be selected from a multiple choice Option Set
Date/Time Enter both the date and the time
Date Enter the date
Time Enter the time
Image Take a picture or choose a jpg orpngimage
Annotated Image Take or choose a picture and annotate it
Signature Sign with a finger
Sketch Sketch an image with a finger
Audio Record or choose a sound
Video Record or choose a video
  1. After selecting the type of question (and option set if applicable), enter the main text of the question in the Title box

A note on image, video, or audio submissions: those files can be big! Big files may also mean a lot of data costs as well. Consult with your ELMO or database administrator on best practices for your project.

5.3.Creating Hints

  1. Add further instructions in the Hint box below the Title box (i.e.: for a Select Multiple question, add “Select all that apply” in the Hint box)
  1. Below the Hint box, there is an option to make the question a Key Question. This option allows responses to the form to be organized based on the response to the question. If this box is marked, a column showing these answers will be added in the Responses tab.
  2. Click Save to generate the question
  3. To edit the question, return to the Questions page and select the corresponding Pencil icon ( Pencil Black )

5.4.Language translations

Question titles and hints can be translated into any language that has been set for the mission. To add a language to a mission, go to the Preferred Languages box in the Settings menu. When creating or editing questions, the Title box will appear for the first language in Preferred Languages, followed by the Hint box in that language, then the Title and Hint boxes for the second language, and so on. So, a Preferred Languages box that looks like this:

preferred languages enfr

Results in this:

title hint enfr

To translate a title or a hint, type the translation in the corresponding box and click Save. To view the translation, change the language by clicking Change Language in the footer. Questions that have been translated into the selected language will appear translated once that language is selected. For example, the French translation of an English question will appear once French is selected.


Tags are an easy way to organize information around a common keyword or theme. In ELMO, questions may be “tagged” with keywords or descriptors, which may be used to find all of the questions with the same tag. Tags are also used in Reports to help sort information assigned to questions.


To tag questions:

  1. Open or create the question you wish to tag.
  2. Type in the Tags box. (You may add multiple tags.)
  3. Click Enter to add a tag.
  4. To delete a tag, click on the X next to the tag.
  5. Click Save after adding tags to save your changes.

6.Forms: Option Sets

The Option Sets page is where the answers for Select One (ex. “What color is your shirt?”) and Select Multiple (ex. “What kinds of food do you like?”) question types can be created. Click the Option Sets menu on the main menu bar to create or edit existing Option Sets.

6.1.Create New Option Set

  1. Click Create New Option Set link available from the Option Sets menu. Option set settings appear:
    new option set edited
  2. In the box marked Name, create a unique name that summarizes the Option Set being created.
    1. Observer users will not be able to view this name
  3. If this Option Set represents geographic information, check the box labeled Is Geographic? (i.e. a set of provinces or regions). Responses that are geographic can also appear on the map in the Dashboard, even if SMS-based.
    1. If the options contain coordinates, check the box labeled With Coordinates?
  4. If this Option Set needs multiple levels, check the box labeled Is Multilevel? (i.e. example that is non-geographic like the example below?). See more information on Multilevel sets below.
    1. Click add level to add a level
    2. Type the name of the level (i.e. province or region)
    3. Click Save
  5. Enter the different options for the option set in the box labeled Options
  6. In the Options box, add existing options by typing them and clicking Add. If an option in the drop down menu is not visible, add a new one by clicking Create New Option
    1. The Options box allows multiple options to be typed at once and added or created together by separating option names by commas. Conclude by clicking Add
  7. Click Save

Multilevel option sets. Checking the Is Multilevel? box allows for the use of hierarchically organized options. For example, if the question is Where do you live?, you may want to allow for the selection of a certain Country (a level) that always contains a set number of Provinces or States (another level) which have certain Cities within each (one more level):

Country: United States-> Province/State: Georgia-> City: Atlanta or

Country: Democratic Republic of Congo -> Province/State:Nord-Kivu -> City: Goma

At this time, Multilevel Option Sets can only be used for Select One type questions.

To create a Multilevel Option Set:

  1. Check the box labeled Is Multilevel?
  2. Click Add Level
  3. Type the name of the level and click Save
  4. Repeat step 3 until all levels have been created
  5. Click and drag levels so that the first level is at the top and the last level is at the bottom. Do not indent levels:
    levels WRONG levels RIGHT
  6. Add options
  7. Click and drag options so that options of any level below the first are beneath and indented to the right of the options of the level they are within.
  8. Click Save
multilevel option set edited

In the above example, Species is the first level of the hierarchy and Role is the second. Human, Dog, and Cat are options of Species, and Mom, Dad, Brother, and Sister are options of Role. Note that Dog and Cat do not have options on the Role level. Also note that when using a Tablet, the user must first choose an option at the Species level before swiping to the next page to view the available options at the Role level.

Option Sets can also be created with spreadsheet software, like Excel, and uploaded directly into ELMO:

  1. Outside of ELMO, create a CSV or XLS file
  2. In the first row, include the name for each level as an individual column header(e.g. Company | Department | Name ).
  3. Add the names of the options
    excel option set
  4. In ELMO, click on the Option Set menu
  5. Click Import New Option Set
  6. Create a Name for the option set
  7. Choose the CSV or XLS file created in steps 1-3
  8. Click Import
  9. If the option set is really large, the upload may be sent to Operations Panel. You will be able to work on other tasks while the upload continues in the background. You can also click on the Operations link to check if your upload was successful

6.2.Edit existing Option Set

  1. Click the Option Sets menu
  2. Click the Option Set requiring editing by selecting the corresponding Pencil icon ( Pencil Black )
  3. Click Save

Note that if you wish to edit a large option set imported via CSV or XLS file, you cannot directly edit the options in ELMO. You will need to edit the original file and import it again. The edited file should be imported under a different name, as importing it under the same name will create another option set with the same name, which could lead to confusion. For example, if an option set was imported and named LOS, the edited option set should be imported under the name LOS #2 or something similar, because naming it LOS will result in a second option set named LOS being created, not the replacement of the first one.

6.3.Import Standard Option Set

  1. Click Import Standard Option Sets
  2. Click the boxes next to the option sets to be imported
  3. Click Import

6.4.Importing large option sets

  1. Click Import New Option Set
  2. Type a name for your option set in the box
  3. Click Choose File
  4. Select an XLS or CSV file
  5. Click Import

6.5.Upload a Large Geographic Option Set

To upload a large geographic option set:

  1. Outside of ELMO, create a CSV or XLS file
  2. In the first row, include the name for each level as an individual column header with “Coordinates” as the last column (e.g. Province | City | District | Coordinates )
  3. Add the name for each level
  4. In the column for “Coordinates,” include both latitude and longitude in decimal format separated by a comma (e.g. 0.054396, 18.259688)

NOTE:To find latitude and longitude coordinates in decimal format:
In Google Maps:
1. Open Google Maps
2. Right-click the place or area on the map
3. Select What’s here?
4. A card appears at the bottom of the screen with more info

In  ArcGIS: Please view Appendix


Country   | State  | City       | Coordinates

USA        | GA     | Atlanta  | 33.747082, -84.380101

large geographic option set
  1. In the mission you are working on, click on the Option Set menu
  2. Click Import New Option Set
  3. Create a Name for your option set
  4. Choose the CSV or XLS file you created
  5. Click Import
  6. If the option set is really large, the upload may be sent to Operations Panel. You will be able to work on other tasks while the upload continues in the background. You can also click on the Operations link to check if your upload was successful.

6.6.Language translations

Options within an Option Set can be translated in a manner similar to translating questions. To translate an option:

translate option edited
  1. Either create a new option set and add options or edit an existing option set
  2. Click the Edit icon adjacent to the option to be translated
  3. Type the translation in the box next to the language being translated to
  4. Click Save
  5. Note that the two-letter language code for every existing translation appears next to the option name
  6. Click Save

7.Submitting data: Online

Forms can be submitted to ELMO through three different platforms:

  1. Online (Via the ELMO website)
  2. Via a tablet
  3. Via SMS

To submit a form online:

  1. Click the Submit menu on the main menu bar of ELMO
  2. Click the form for which a response is being submitted
  3. Complete the form
  4. Click Save

To review a response:

  1. Click the Responses menu
  2. Click the pencil icon on the same row as the response to be reviewed
    reviewing responses 1 edited
  3. Make any necessary changes to the form
  4. Mark the box next to Reviewed? This flag is visible alongside each response under the Responses menu
  5. If desired, add any notes in the text box next to Reviewer Notes
  6. Click Save
    reviewing responses 2 edited

8.Submitting data: Tablet

Forms can be submitted via tablet. Any Android-based tablet with an Internet or mobile connection can be used to submit data to ELMO. While this section covers submission of forms via an app designed for form submissions, users may also use the browser app on the tablet to submit forms via ELMO Online. To submit forms via the tablet app, the following is necessary:

  1. Android-based tablet
  2. Internet or mobile connection
  3. ODK Collect app (via the Play store)

8.1. Setup of Android tablet/phone

Forms are downloaded, filled out, and submitted in a program called ODK Collect. This program comes pre-loaded on Carter Center tablets, but can also be downloaded from the Play Store on the tablet:

  1. Press Play Store
  2. Search for “ODK Collect”
  3. Press ODK Collect
  4. Press INSTALL

Using ELMO via ODK Collect requires an ELMO username and password. To acquire these, contact an ELMO administrator. To enter these in ODK Collect:

  1. On the tablet’s home screen, press ODK Collect
  2. On the ODK Collect home screen, press the Menu button. This is located in the top right corner of the screen and appears as three gray squares in a vertical line.
  3. Press General Settings
    ODK menu edited
  4. Press Configure platform settings
  5. Press URL
  6. Type the URL of the mission (ex.
    1. To find the URL of the mission, log in to ELMO Online and go to the mission’s home page by clicking the Home icon
    2. Look in the address bar
    3. The URL in the address bar is the same as the URL of the mission, but with the language designation (ex. /en or /fr) removed
  7. Press OK
  8. Press Username
  9. Type the username
  10. Press OK
  11. Press Password
  12. Type the password
  13. Press OK

8.2.Downloading forms

A form must be downloaded to a tablet in ODK Collect before it can be submitted. To download a form:

  1. On the ODK Collect home screen, press Get Blank Form
    1. A box may pop up asking for confirmation of username and password. If entered in General Settings, they should be correct. If not, type the correct username and password and continue.
    2. If a screen other than the home screen is shown, press the Back button on the tablet until the home screen reappears.
  2. Mark the boxes next to the desired form(s)
  3. Press Get Selected

Note: In general, any changes made to forms by mission coordinators during active missions usually need to be downloaded again to the tablets. Coordinators should also guide observers to delete previous versions to prevent confusion. Good team communication is critical!

8.3.Submitting forms

To fill out and submit a form:

  1. On the ODK Collect home screen, press Fill Blank Form
  2. Press the form to be filled out
  3. Fill out the form
    1. When obtaining GPS locations, stand outdoors. If indoors, stand by the nearest window.
  4. When the form is filled out, press Save Form and Exit on the last screen
  5. On the ODK Collect home screen, press Send Finalized Form
  6. Mark the box next to the form
  7. Press Send Selected

8.4.Editing forms before submission

To edit any answers to a form before submission, unmark the box on the last screen next to Mark form as finalized before pressing Save Form and Exit. Then:

  1. On the ODK Collect home screen, press Edit Saved Form
  2. Tap the form to be edited
  3. Tap a question to change its answer, or press Go To Start to review each question from the beginning.
  4. When finished with editing, mark the box next to Mark form as finalized before pressing Save Form and Exit

8.5.Override Code

ELMO does not typically allow the observer to finalize and send in forms if there are required questions that haven’t been answered. However, some situations may arise in which forms need to be submitted without required questions being answered. For example, an observation may be cancelled after observers have been deployed; the observers cannot collect any new data, but the data they have collected is still useful. These observers can bypass the required question and submit the form by entering an override code. The override code is found and regenerated as needed by mission coordinators on the settings page of each mission, and then provided to observers when overrides are desired.

To generate an Override code:

override code
  1. Click the Settings menu
  2. In the General Settings area, locate the current Override Code and write it down; the code will no longer be available to view after being regenerated

    Note: If code regeneration is deemed necessary, the best practice is to regenerate the code BEFORE forms are downloaded by observer teams. This avoids complications with communicating code updates and keeping track of different versions of forms. As a rule of thumb, frequent regeneration of codes should not be necessary.

  3. Click Generate to obtain a new code

In order to use the override code, forms must be set to allow for incomplete responses. When creating or editing the relevant form, check the box that says Allow Incomplete?. Once this is done, the form’s Allow Incomplete? setting should reflect Yes in the overall list of forms. If not initially set, forms have to be downloaded again by observers in order to take effect.

To submit an incomplete form with an override code, fill out the form as usual, other than the unanswered questions. At the end of the form, a question will appear: Are there missing required answers? The options will be I don’t think so and Yes.

incomplete tablet response
  1. Select Yes
  2. Alternatively, select I don’t think so to go back and answer the required questions
  3. Enter the override code

Once the override code has been obtained and successfully entered, the observer can mark the form as finalized and submit.

9.Submitting data: SMS

Forms can also be submitted via SMS. Any mobile phone with SMS capability and access to a cellular network can be used to submit data to ELMO.

Given the space limitations of texts, SMS-based forms are most powerful when designed carefully. Certain types of questionnaires, such as qualitative ones with long-text answers, are usually not a good fit. However, SMS form submission allows the easy aggregations of large amounts of data across distances without good mobile or internet coverage. It also can be cheaper per observer, and may suit certain monitoring and evaluation purposes, quantitative inquiries, or simple surveys.

9.1.SMS Form Creation

Creating an “SMS-able” form is similar to creating online and tablet forms, there is just one additional flag to set:

  1. Click the Forms menu
  2. Click Create New Form
  3. Click More settings (shown below)
    More settings edited
  4. Enter a name for the form
  5. Mark the box next to SMSable?
    1. If you need to forward all SMS form submissions to certain users, mark the box next to SMS Forwarding? and enter the names of the recipients in the next text box; more information on this can be found below
  6. If a form’s submissions need to be authenticated, mark the box next to Authenticate SMS? (more information on SMS authentication can be found below)
  7. Click Save
New SMS form edited

Once the form is published, an accompanying guide for observers is also generated by ELMO. The “SMS Composition Guide” provides observers with instructions for sending SMS responses, including a unique code for the form. To view the guide:

  1. Click on the Forms menu
  2. Click on the form
  3. Click on View SMS Guide

An example of the guide is shown below:

SMS guide example

New to Version 5.8 is the ability to submit an SMS response that can be relayed out to a selected group of people. The feature allows users to be placed into groups that can be alerted that a submission has been made to ELMO. This ability is called SMS Forwarding. If the SMS Forwarding? box is checked, a copy of each SMS submission will be sent via SMS to all users entered in the box SMS Forward Recipients.

An example of an appropriate situation to use SMS Forwarding is: A team wants to receive an alert when an incident form is submitted to the system. The incident form is not a regular submission (one may be submitted once every few days or less), so there may not be someone logged into the system to see it submitted. When an incident is reported, it is important to alert an entire group of responders that something is going on. Thus SMS Forwarding should be enabled for this form.

9.2.SMS Authentication

SMS Authentication is a feature that adds an extra measure of protection against outside users from submitting forms to ELMO. Normally, ELMO only accepts submissions that come from observers with their phone numbers pre-registered in the system. Our SMS Authentication feature, when enabled, works by requiring observers to provide an additional code when submitting forms via SMS.

This four-character code is randomly assigned and unique to each user. It is generated when an account is created. The code can be found by clicking on the Users menu and then on the name of the user.

viewing auth code edited

To generate a new authentication code:

  1. Click Edit User
  2. Click Regenerate
  3. Click Save

Ideally, authentication codes should never be written down. Users should memorize their codes. If a user forgets their code, an administrator should generate a new one for them.

Activating SMS authentication adds extra security to ELMO by ensuring that the registered phone number and the authentication code belong to the same user. All SMS submissions that do not meet both these conditions are rejected.

9.3.Submitting SMS responses

To submit forms to ELMO via SMS, the following is required:

  1. Mobile phone
  2. Phone credit
  3. SMS-able ELMO form with three letter unique code listed in the SMS Composition Guide
  4. ELMO number

To submit a form:

  1. Choose a form to submit; only one form at a time can be submitted per SMS
  2. Compose an SMS to the ELMO number:
    1. Begin your message with the three letter unique code, followed by a space
      • If SMS authentication is required, type the authentication code first, then a space, then the form code
    2. SMS example edited with text
    3. Type the number of the question being answered, followed by the answer selected
    4. Type a space, followed by the next answer
    5. Repeat step 3 until all questions have been answered
      • If not answering a question, skip that question number and answer in the SMS. For example, if question 4 were not being answered, the message would look like this: xyz 1.a  2.f  3.Ituri 5.20150815 6.a
    6. Send the message


Searching is a critical aspect of being able to find the information you need. This function is available on many parts of ELMO.


Keywords are just the words you use in your search. Combining Keywords with Operators give the parameters for a search to occur. Keywords and Operators form Expressions.

Operators in ELMO are: AND, OR, NOT( ! or -), grouping operator (parentheses), and phrase operator (“”).

operator  description
AND default implicit operator; matches when both of its arguments match
example (with three keywords and two implicit AND operators between them): voters ballots stations returns matches with voters AND ballots AND stations.
OR ( | ) Matches when any of its two arguments match.
example: one | two returns matches that have one OR two
example: “Opening Form” | “Polling Form” returns matches that are Opening Form or Polling Form.
NOT (!= or -) Matches when the first argument matches, but the second one does not.
example: form != Closing returns the matches of forms that are NOT the Closing form
example: ballot -box matches any response with an answer containing the word ballot but NOT the word box.
(… ) Grouping parenthesis explicitly denotes the argument boundaries.
example: (red | green | blue) pixel requires you to solve the question of red OR green OR blue before you add AND pixel.
“…” Quotes match when argument Keywords match an exact phrase.
example: The red fox jumped over the fence
example: Voter lines went outside the center and down the street



A qualifier is a word you add to an expression to specify where to search. For example, searching form: observation within the Responses menu will return all forms with the word “observation” in them. Another example: searching type: long text in the Questions menu returns all questions of the long text type.

Available qualifiers depend on the view or menu that you are working within.  They are listed below:

Responses menu

Qualifier Function
form: The name of the form submitted
submitter: The name of the user that submitted the response (partial matches allowed
submit-date: The date the response was submitted (e.g. 1985-03-22)
reviewed: Whether the response has been marked ‘reviewed’ (1 = yes or 0 = no)
source: The medium via which the response was submitted (‘web’, ‘odk’, or ‘sms’)
text: Answers to textual questions


Questions menu

Qualifier Function
code: The question code (partial matches allowed)
title: The question title (partial matches allowed)
type: The question type (text, long-text, integer, decimal, location, select-one, select-multiple, datetime, date, time)
tag: Tags applied to the question


Users menu

Qualifier Function
name: The user’s full name
login: The user’s username
email: The user’s email address
phone: The user’s phone number (no dashes or other punctuation, e.g. 1112223333
group: The user group that the user belongs to


SMS menu

Qualifier Function
content: The message content (partial matches allowed)
type: The message type (incoming, reply, or broadcast) (partial matches allowed
username: The username of the sender or receiver (partial matches allowed)
name: The full name of the sender or receiver (partial matches allowed)
number: The phone number of the sender or receiver (partial matches allowed)
date: The date the message was sent or received (e.g. 2015-01-29)
datetime: The date and time the message was sent or received (use quotation marks and 24-hr time, e.g. “2015-01-29 14:00”)

11.Reports and Data Analysis

ELMO stores and aggregates incoming data so that field and headquarters staff can quickly chart, graph, and analyze information while writing reports. These reports allow for preliminary conclusions to be made in a timely manner. However, other tools may be more useful for more detailed analysis. For this, data can be exported from ELMO for further review in other analytical software.

11.1.Internal report building

Submitted data can be visualized in the Reports section of ELMO. Click the Reports menu on the main menu bar to access this section. Coordinators can generate reports for response submissions from all users while observers are only able to generate reports from their own responses. To create a report, click the Create a New Report link at the top of the page.

Three types of report options will be offered:

  1. Tally Report: Shows totaled tallies of answers or responses, grouped by attributes of interest. Examples:
    • Table
      Tally Table Example
    • Bar Chart
      Tally Bar Example
  2. If selected, the following prompts/options are available:

    tally report options edited
    1. Tallies to show Answers per Question or Responses per Answer/Attribute
    2. Data to be presented in a Table or Bar Chart format
    3. percentage style (if Table is selected) or bar style (if Bar Chart is selected)
      1. percentage style – which percentages are displayed, if any; choices are No Percentage, Percentage Overall, Percentage By Row, and Percentage By Column
      2. bar style – which style the bar chart should be; choices are Side By Side and Stacked
    4. How the titles should be displayed – Full Titles (Full text of questions) or Codes Only (Displays unique code assigned to question during its creation)
    5. A title for the report
    6. The form responses to include in the report
    7. If Answers per Question is chosen:
      1. Calculations to apply – whether to show which answers are zero and greater than zero
      2. Which questions to include – choose specific questions or questions with specific option sets
    8. If Responses per Answer/Attribute is chosen:
      1. Which attribute or question to use for the row headers
      2. Which attribute or question to use for the column headers
  3. List Report: A raw listing of answers and attributes for a set of responses. For example: List Example

    If selected, the following prompts/options are available:
    list report options edited

    1. How the titles should be displayed – Full Titles (Full text of questions) or Codes Only (Displays unique code given to question in the Question creation mode)
    2. A title for the report
    3. The form responses to include in the report
    4. Columns to include
  4. Standard Report: A question-by-question summary of the responses for a specific form. The purpose of this report is to help give a ready-made overview of responses for a specific questionnaire.  For example: Standard Form Example

    If selected, the following prompts/options are available:
    standard form report edited

    1. Form to report on
    2. Whether to split the report by responses to a special question
    3. Whether to group questions by tag
    4. Whether to order questions By Number (the order they appeared in the form) or By Type
    5. How the titles should be displayed – Full Titles (Full text of questions) or Codes Only (Displays unique code given to question in the Question creation mode)
    6. Whether to show all text responses, not show long text responses, or not show any text responses
    7. A title for the report

11.2.Exporting to Spreadsheets (.csv)

If the options available within the Reports section do not meet mission needs for analyzing collected data, the data can be exported to a .csv file, a format readable in many quantitative and qualitative analysis platforms (e.g Excel, R, Tableau, MaxQDA).
To export data to a CSV file:

  1. Click the Responses menu
  2. Click Export to CSV Format

Tally and List Reports can also be exported to a CSV file:

  1. Click the Reports menu
  2. Click the report to be exported
  3. Click Export Data To CSV Format

11.3.External connections - Tableau

Tableau is a data visualization software that allows to present ELMO data in a visually engaging and interactive fashion. If you love to use Tableau and have a license, this is how to get started with ELMO.

Things that you will need are: SERVER credentials, and MySQL DATABASE credentials. These are different from ELMO accounts or logins. These are things that your ELMO administrator should have on hand.

Establishing a Secure Tunnel

In order to connect to Tableau, you will need to establish a “secure shell tunnel” or encrypted connection between your computer and the server that hosts ELMO. There are a number of ways that you can do this such as clients such as PuTTY (for Windows) or direct through a terminal. Check with your ELMO administrator for recommendations.

The registered port for MySQL connections is 3306.

An example of establishing the tunnel via terminal might look like this:

ssh –N –p 22 <username>@<server> -L 9990/<localhost>/3306

which sometimes hangs even if success is achieved.

You may also have to make sure you have the appropriate ODBC drivers:

(so, n.b., if all this doesn’t make sense to you, find your local friendly ELMO administrator who should be able to make sense of this!)

Connecting Tableau to the Database

  1. Open Tableau.
  2. Click Data > Connect to Data…(or on the left Connect sidebar, look under To a Server)
  3. Select MySQL.
  4. For server name, enter <localhost> IP address
  5. For port, enter the port you established through your tunnel session (in the example above it is 9990)
  6. Enter the Database username and password. (this is not the same as the server credentials)

From there you should select the particular database instance that houses your data.

Making sense of the data in Tableau

From this point onwards, there are a number of ways that you can examine the data – if you need help to understand the tables and relationships, check out the Entity Relationship Diagram on our GitHub at (also available at the bottom half of the introductory GitHub page).

But, one way to easily get started is to take advantage of the custom SQL query we provide in ELMO. For each mission, in the settings pane, you can see a nifty ready query:

external sql

In Tableau, select the database and then

  1. Select Custom SQL
  2. Copy the Tableau SQL code from ELMO as it appears above.
  3. Switch back to Tableau and paste the Tableau SQL code into the Custom SQL
  4. In the final box, give the connection a name such as ‘Presidential Runoff 2014’. You will be able to reuse this connection with other worksheets.

Click OK. The Measures and Dimensions should appear in the left panes.

12.Additional features and information

12.1.Broadcast messages

Coordinators may want to broadcast messages to observer teams in the field in the instance of a change of polling location, schedule, or another event. Administrators and coordinators can send Broadcasts via email or SMS to individual users or all active users on a mission.

Please note that you need an ELMO SMS gateway with SMS credit established before messages can be sent.

To send a Broadcast Message:

  1. Click the Users menu
  2. Select the user(s) to receive a message by marking the boxes next to their name(s)

    NOTE: Observers do NOT have the ability to reply to broadcast messages – instruct observers to contact the observer coordinator directly if they need to discuss a broadcast message or other issue.

  3. Click Send Broadcast—this action will direct to a page where the medium of the broadcast can be selected, and the subject and its content can be entered into a text field
    broadcast selection edited
  4. Select a medium from the drop down list:
    1. SMS preferred: will try to send a SMS and then an email, if unsuccessful
    2. Email preferred: will try to send an email and then an SMS if unsuccessful
    3. SMS only: will send only SMS
    4. Email only: will send only email
    5. Both SMS and Email: will send both SMS and email
  5. Type a subject in the Subject line
  6. Type your broadcast message in the Message box
  7. Click Send
    broadcasts edited

12.2.Converting and Displaying GPS Coordinates in ARcGIS 10

There are many ways of representing locations.  One of the most common uses angular latitude and longitude coordinates to specify the location of a point.  These Geographic coordinates may be expressed in several different notations, including Decimal Degrees (DD), Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM), and Degrees Minutes and Seconds (DMS). The formula for converting Degree Minutes and Seconds to Decimal Degrees is discussed in the ArcGIS 10 Help.  Another common method is to use a projected coordinate system and X and Y coordinate pairs, that is, two sets of numbers in a planar Cartesian system.

Gridded systems, like Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), United States National Grid (USNG), Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) divide the world into zones which are projected and then overlaid with one or more grids.  Within the grids, point locations are specified by their position East and North the zone origin or the southeast corner of the cell. For USNG and MGRS the numeric values of the northing and easting can vary from 1 to 5 digits, depending on the precision of the location (they must both use the same number of digits) and then the values are concatenated.

Two less frequently used systems, the Global Area Reference System (GARS) and Geographic Reference System (GEOREF), divide the world into polygonal areas based on different sets of nested grids and encode locations as a string of grid ID values.

arcgis 1

Each of these ways of representing a location results in different strings of characters with a variety of formats.  This table shows the coordinate representation for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the US (75° 9’ 18.382” West longitude by 39° 59’ 0.637” North latitude) in each of these systems.  This is not an exhaustive list of the delimiters and hemisphere indicators that are used in each system.

ArcGIS 10 can convert coordinates expressed in each of these systems into the others, and provides ways of displaying and accepting coordinate input in most of them.

Displaying Coordinates

arcgis 2

You can see the coordinate value for a place on a map in the ArcMap status bar, at the bottom right of the application. The default coordinate format in the status bar is based on the units of the first layer added to the map, often feet, meters, or degrees of longitude/latitude.

arcgis 3

You can change the coordinate display to use any of these systems (except GARS and GEOREF) by right-clicking Layers in the table of contents and selecting Properties. On the General tab, under Units, you can select the type of coordinates you would like to see, for example MGRS.

Go To XY Coordinates

arcgis 4

If you have a set of coordinates and you want to find their location on the map, you can use the Go To XY tool.

arcgis 5

Open the tool from the toolbar, then select a coordinate format. Type (or paste) the coordinates into the text box and click one of the buttons to Pan to, Zoom to, Flash, Add a Point, Add a Point Labeled with Coordinates, or Add a Callout.

The Go To XY tool also keeps a record of recent locations, which you can return to by clicking the Recent button and selecting the location. You can use this to manually convert coordinates from one format to another. To do so, select your input coordinate notation, input your coordinates and pan to the location. Then select your new output format and select the coordinates from the Recent button.

Find MGRS coordinates

arcgis 6

If you work with MGRS coordinates, the Find tool has an MGRS Locator that works like the Go To XY tool, but provides additional capabilities tailored to the MGRS system.

arcgis 7

To use these, open the Find tool on the Tools toolbar.  In the Find tool dialog box, click the Locations tab, select MGRS from the locator drop-down list.  Then type (or paste) the coordinate into the MGRS box and click Find.

arcgis 8

The tool will return a list of location matches (in our case there should only be one). If you right-click on the coordinate you have various options for marking the location.

So what’s different about the MGRS Locator?

The locator has options for matching shortened MGRS coordinates when you work in the same Grid Zone Designator (GZD).  It has options to pull the GZD and 100,000 meter square identifier from the current map center, a default value, or use the last one used. This is convenient if you work in the same GZD over and over again, you can type “8675725939” or “VK8675725939” rather than “18SVK8675725939”, which will save you a few extra key strokes when entering your coordinates.

Converting Tables of Coordinates

arcgis 9

There may be times when you have a lot of coordinates that you need to convert to another system.  If you have the coordinates in a table, you can convert all of them by running the Convert Coordinate Notation (CCN) geoprocessing tool.

For example, you might convert a table of longitude and latitude values in decimal degrees (DD) to MGRS.

arcgis 10

With the CCN tool you can convert between DD, DDM, DMS, UTM, USNG, MGRS, GARS, and GEOREF.

The tool takes your table of coordinates and converts them to point features with an attribute containing the new output notation.

It is important to note that the CCN tool is a geoprocessing tool and represents a single-focus process of converting a table of coordinates; its only function is to do the conversion. The output point features do not have the same fields as the input table.

If you want the output points to have  all of the attributes of the input table (in addition to the new notation field) you must put the tool in a Model Builder model that uses the Join Field tool to attach the original fields.

The model would look something like this:

arcgis 11

This table lists the coordinate notations mentioned above, and shows the different tools and functions that support them.

arcgis 12

Content provided by Matt Funk

12.3.Device Security

Data sent to ELMO should be set up securely using HTTPS (Administrators take note!). In addition, each physical device should also be secured. Here are some security methods you might consider:

  1. Use a Screen Lock
  2. Encrypt Device with SD Card Encryption
  3. Turn off Developer Options
  4. Protect Device from Harmful Applications
  5. Delete forms automatically after being sent in ODK Collect

These suggestions are covered in more detail below. They are just here for your consideration; you should refer to the Android Quick Start Guide for more information. If your device is on Android version 5.x, click here; if it is on 6.x, click here.

12.3.1.Use a Screen Lock

Think of a screen lock as a password to unlock a phone. Using a screen lock is important for security. If someone is in physical possession of a device, to access the device’s information, they will need to know how to unlock the device.

Android has several options for screen locks. These include drawing a pattern, a numerical keyphrase, and a text passphrase. On newer devices, fingerprint scanning is also possible as a screen lock.

A screen lock should allow the user of the device easy access to the device and their data, but should be difficult for someone else to guess or access.

Opening the Screen Lock Menu

To change screen lock settings, go to the main settings menu and look for a Lock Screen, Screen Lock, or Security or something similar.

Android 6.0 and up

Settings > Security > Screen Lock

Open the device’s Settings application. Look for Security and select it. Then select Screen Lock.

Android 5.0

Settings > Lock screen

From the Home screen, pull down the main menu by swiping down. The gear menu in the right corner opens Settings. Inside Settings, find and select Lock Screen.

Changing The Screen Lock

Once inside the screen lock menu, select the screen lock you wish to use. You will be guided through how to change the screen lock. The screen lock options available depend on each device, its operating system (OS), and the version of the OS on the device.

12.3.2.Encrypt Device with SD Card Encryption

If a device is lost, stolen, or in someone else’s possession, they may be able to gain access to the data on the device by physically accessing the data card. Encryption stores data in a scrambled state. Encryption ensures that only those with credentials can unscramble or unencrypt the data and read it.

According to Android documentation: “Encryption stores… data in a form that can only be read if you have the right credentials. This can provide additional protection in case [a] device is stolen.” (1) Types of data that can be encrypted include “account data, app data, music and other media, and downloaded information.” (source)

To Access Encryption Settings

In the main settings menu, look for Security or similar. Inside the security screen, look for Encryption, Encrypt phone, Encrypt tablet, or similar.

Android (5.0, 4.4 and lower)

Settings > Security > Encrypt [device]

Encrypting Your Device

Inside the Encryption menu, follow the instructions on the screen to encrypt the device. You will need to have access to a charger and set aside an hour or more for the encryption process.

Use Encryption with a screen lock

It is recommended to use a screen lock if encryption is used on a device. Without a screen lock, encryption’s security protection is reduced.

Some devices require a screen lock if encryption is enabled. Some devices only allow certain types of screen locks to be used, such as a pin or password, when encryption is enabled.

12.3.3.Turn off Developer Options

Developer options are settings within the Android system that allow a device to be used to develop and debug an application. If you are not actively testing an application, you do not need to keep developer options on.

Determine If You Have Ever Activated Developer Options

By default, developer options are completely hidden in Settings. Look in the main settings menu. Is there an option listed for Developer Options or something similar?

If not, developer options have not been activated on the device. You can skip the remaining steps in this section.

If Developer Options or something similar is listed, you should follow the next steps to secure the device.

Open Developer Options

Settings > Developer Options

Turn Off Developer Options

Once Developer Options is open, turn off Developer Options.

Inside Developer Options, if you see that Developer Options are already turned off on this device, this device is protected. You can skip the remaining steps in this section.

Turning off Developer Options may involve moving a toggle from the “on” to “off” position. Or it may involve deselecting all options so that no checkboxes remain checked.

Android 5.0

On the top bar inside Developer Options, switch the toggle from On to Off. You will know Developer Options are turned off when the options on the screen are grayed out.

12.3.4.Protection from Harmful Applications

Each time an application is installed, it has the potential to access data and media, information about other apps, geolocation, and a great deal of information about each device. It is important to install only trusted applications and to remove any applications that are not trusted.

After the initial install of necessary programs on the device, such as ELMO software, device preparers can add security measures to protect against harmful applications.

Use the Approved Application Store

It is recommended to install applications through the operating system’s approved application store. For Android devices, this means most applications should be installed through Google Play Store. The applications found in the operating system’s approved application store have been vetted to ensure the application does not contain malware. Despite this, it is possible for an application from the approved application store to be rouge in some way, including asking for permissions to information on your device that it does not need. It is good practice for election observers and device preparers to only install programs that are needed and trusted.

Turn Off Unknown Sources

To ensure only applications from the approved application store can be used, device prepares can turn off the Unknown Sources setting.

Inside the device’s settings, look for a setting related to types of applications that can be installed. On some devices, this may mean making sure the box marked next to Unknown Sources is not checked or to uncheck it, if needed. On other devices, there may be a different way to turn off Unknown Sources.

Android 5.0

Settings > Security > Phone Administration > Unknown Sources

Turn on App Verification

App verification ensures that an application undergoes a security check on install and periodically. Look for a setting inside the main settings security menu related to “app verification,” “verify apps,” or something similar. Ensure that application verification is enabled.

Android 5.0

Settings > Security > Phone Administration > Verify Apps

Make sure the box next to Verify apps is checked.

Android 6.0

  1. Access Google Settings. You can use one of these methods:
    1. Open the Settings Touch Google.
    2. Open the Google Settings
  2. Inside Google Settings, touch Security.
  3. Under Verify Apps, ensure that Verify Apps is turned on and turn on Scan device for security threats.

Uninstall questionable applications

If questionable apps have been installed on a device or there are applications that are no longer needed on the device, it is recommended that these applications be uninstalled for added security.

12.3.5.ODK Collect: Delete after sending forms

In case you are worried about sensitive information you’ve collected and “what if I lose my device,” you may want to also consider removing any filled out forms on the ODK Collect app after they have been submitted and received by ELMO.

The “Delete After Send” option is available through ODK Collect settings. For more information, please visit

13.Information for Administrators

More in-depth information on the following topics is provided in this section:
* SMS Gateways (FrontlineSMS/Twilio)
* Standards and Data Integrity

13.1.FrontlineSMS gateway setup

You can turn your Android smartphone or tablet into a gateway using the FrontlineSync app and a FrontlineCloud account. Check out Frontline’s documentation for the full details (

Before entering your settings on ELMO, you will need to set things up on FrontlineCloud in order to obtain the Frontline API key.

I. FrontlineCloud
Logging into your FrontlineCloud account, establish the following settings:

  1. Choose Connect to a Mobile Network
  2. Select FrontlineSync
  3. Select the Activity menu
  4. Create a New Activity
  5. Select Forward to URL
    1. Name your Activity: this can be your mission name or whatever you want
    2. Select “All inbound SMS” from the toggle choices
    3. Target URL is the URL generated the Incoming SMS Token in the Settings panel of the ELMO Mission
    4. HTTP Method: POST
    5. Create Keys:
      from ${trigger.sourceNumber}
      frontlinecloud 1
      sent_at ${}
      body ${trigger.text}

    frontline fwd to url edited with numbers

If an API is automatically generated for you, terrific! But if not, here are the steps you need to take in order to set up an API:

  1. Choose the Settings gear in the upper right of the screen
  2. Select API web services and integrations
  3. Click the Connect a web service button
  4. Select “Connect an external web service to your workspace”
  5. Name it something meaningful (e.g. “ELMO API”)

A new row will appear on the screen with an API key in the details, beginning with “API Key:” Everything after the “:” is the API key, remember that information for the next steps.

In ELMO, you can establish multiple incoming and outgoing SMS numbers on different gateway services such as Twilio or Frontline. We will deal with the simplest case first, a single number for SMSes. In settings,

  1. Add the SIM card number to the Incoming Number field. (if adding more than one number, separate the numbers with a comma)
  2. Then add the API code from Frontline into the Frontline Cloud Settings field
  3. Set the Default Outgoing Provider to FrontlineCloud
  4. Save the settings
frontline on elmo edited

III. Android Device:
To make a Android phone or tablet into a gateway, you need to download and install FrontlineSync App from the Google Play store. Then, enter the following settings:

  1. Tap on Settings in the FrontlineSync app
  2. Tap Configure Connection
  3. Enter the credentials for the FrontlineCloud activity you set up earlier
  4. Tap the Connect button
  5. New options will appear, now click the first two checkboxes:
    • Send messages using this Android
    • Upload incoming messages from FrontlineSync
  6. Use the slider to set a check for outgoing messages “Every 1 minute
  7. Click the Update button

A message should appear declaring success, with one more button to tap “Done! Start Using FrontlineSync.”

Note: MAKE SURE TO USE THE DEFAULT MESSENGER APP ON THE PHONE —- ENCRYPTED SMS, such as What’s App, DOES NOT WORK. Look up Android settings help for how to make sure that your using the default messenger app.

Some additional (troubleshooting) notes, maybe:
If you change settings on your FrontlineCloud after having set up your Android Device, you may need to enter your credentials to configure your connection, and make sure everything is up to date.

Also, if you set up more than one device or phone to a FrontlineCloud account, please pay attention to the “connections to mobile networks” settings, which is available off the gear menu located on the upper right corner of the screen. Check with FrontlineSMS for more information on these parameters.

14.About ELMO licenses

The open source license for ELMO code is Apache 2.0. Our code is located at GitHub. ELMO can be hosted on personal servers and users can control who has access to the data.

ELMO Documentation and Training unless otherwise specified is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Creative Commons License

We’re working on making this available in multiple languages, if this is something you are interested in contributing to, please contact us at!

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