You are currently viewing Our world is changing. Introducing the Safe People + Data Initiative

Much of the world’s most important data has traditionally come from direct observation and in-person interviews. At a time when that data is needed more than ever to inform policy and programs, the methods used to collect it have been suddenly rendered less safe. The Safe People + Data Initiative focuses on helping to ensure that data can continue being collected — safely.

This initiative is led by Dobility, the makers of SurveyCTO, with generous support from its many partners and users on the ground in over 165 countries. It provides methodologies and resources for safer data collection, in response to new challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need for safety-focused innovation. Reflecting the diverse needs of global practitioners who are exploring how to continue their work, the initiative will offer tools and insights to support safer methods of in-person data collection as well as alternative and complementary methods of reducing in-person interactions and collecting data remotely.

Explore the initiative

What are the goals?

The goals of the initiative are to:

  1. Develop and support new, safer methods of collecting data to inform evidence-based policy and practice, by smartly adapting pre-pandemic tools and methods and developing new, agile, and mixed-method approaches.
  2. Develop approaches to protect data security and quality as collection methods rapidly evolve.
  3. Provide a vehicle for discussion, mutual learning, and collaboration about safe data collection (e.g., resources, best practices, technology solutions).
  4. Increase the visibility of changing technical and safety needs among those collecting data.

What are the areas of focus?

The initiative will serve as a platform for ideas, solutions, and expertise along the categories listed below.

Safe people: How can data be collected while protecting the safety of respondents and enumerators?

  • Upholding data ethics principles when collecting and using data during pandemics and times of crisis.
  • Improving the safety of in-person data collection with decentralized fieldwork and adapting data collection to remote methods (e.g., phone surveys, web surveys, SMS surveys, use of existing data).
  • Using SurveyCTO for data collection and integrating it with other tools.
  • Managing fieldwork via remote device management, staff training, and onboarding.

Safe data: How can data be collected while protecting its security and quality?  

  • Using new security features to protect data collected on personal devices and manage device setup, as well as end-to-end encryption for at-rest and in-transit protection.
  • Leveraging sophisticated quality controls for real-time data monitoring and remote fieldwork management, including remote training and accompaniment.
  • Harnessing interoperability with other tools for safe analysis and visualization.
  • Developing and implementing data protection standards and guidelines.

What are the ways to get involved?

This initiative is a community effort that arose organically as the SurveyCTO community grappled with new challenges stemming from the pandemic. Users have been generously sharing resources and best practices, results from piloting new methods, and new technologies. The Safe People + Safe Data Initiative will serve as a means to build on these efforts and make them as accessible as possible. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Share expertise: Author or co-author resources, articles, and guides. Lead topical discussions via webinars, virtual panels, and interviews.
  • Engage regularly: Contribute feedback and insights to improve the initiative and its offerings.
  • Develop new tools: Pilot new methods and share results. Partner with SurveyCTO for a technical solution or integration.

We’re excited to announce an upcoming virtual panel discussion on August 12, 2020 from 9:00-10:30 AM EDT / 1:00-2:30 PM UTC on innovative approaches for safely collecting data and sustaining high-impact work with leading experts from the World Bank Group, USAID, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Register now at the link below!

Watch the recording

If you have any questions, feedback, or interest in getting involved, please reach out to You can also stay up-to-date by joining the mailing list on the initiative page.