To conduct an MDC survey, some specific equipment is required. The equipment varies slightly depending on whether you work with or without internet connection. In general, for SENS survey, the choice has been made to work offline hence the description found here is for offline surveys.

If your country or field operation plans to conduct several surveys using mobile data collection either in consecutive years, in a number of nutrition surveys throughout the country, or in various types of surveys, it is recommended to buy a full survey set for your operation. However, UNHCR Headquarters has equipment ready to be sent to the field for SENS survey. To borrow smartphones/computer/router from UNHCR HQ, or to get guidance and support on implementation of SENS with mobile phone technology, contact:

Equipment needed:

  • ODK tools
  • Android mobile phones
  • Wireless router
  • Computer
  • Steady power supply
  • USB battery pack



The software chosen by UNHCR is the free open-source ODK application. ODK stands for Open Data Kit, and is a set of applications for creating questionnaires and surveys that can be downloaded free from the internet.

Before you start a survey, you need to make sure that you have the latest version of ODK Collect recommended by UNHCR on the phones and that you have the right version of ODK Aggregate (server) on your computer. You will always find information concerning current versions in latest updates.



You will need enough smartphones for each survey team to have one or two phones, as well as a few backups. All phones must be running on Android platform in order to be compatible with the ODK application. For ease of use, smartphones with a large touchscreen and slide-out keyboard are preferable. The smartphones may be borrowed from UNHCR HQ, or country operations could have their own set of phones.

Minimal Requirements:

  • Android Version 2.3 (recent phones are generally platform 4 or higher)
  • Screen size of 4 inches is recommended

Required Applications:



The wireless router is required to create a local wireless network and allow the phones to communicate with the computer. At the end of each day, data is sent from the phones to the computer using the wireless network.

Minimal Requirements:

  • DHCP reservation capacity
  • Wireless



We strongly recommend to have a dedicated survey computer. This computer will be set up specifically for the survey, either by UNHCR HQ or by your in-country IT team with remote support from HQ. Note that using the computer for other purposes (e.g. internet) may cause errors in the quick links and settings prepared on the computer specifically for the survey, and may cause problems for the survey coordinator.

Minimal Requirements:

  • 1G RAM
  • Installed with Windows 7 (alternatively XP works as well)

Software Required:



Access to a good electrical supply is essential for the router and computer and for over-night charging capacities of the phones. Where electrical supply is unstable with unexpected power-cuts or planned power savings, alternative charging options must be considered before the survey.



Even though they cannot replace steady electrical power, battery packs are a useful secondary source of energy for the phones. We recommend having at least 2 for a survey where the phones are daily charged. This way, if a phone lack battery during the survey, the enumerator can charge it while continuing the survey.