Announcing Akvo FLOW Partnership
March 6, 2012
By Water For People
We are pleased to announce that Water For People and Akvo have entered an agreement to further develop FLOW, Water For People’s baseline monitoring tool. This agreement represents an important step for the development community in that Akvo will have the ability to enhance the current version of FLOW, while Water For People will focus on field-testing and usability.
Details of the partnership are:
Together, Water For People and Akvo will build a new version of FLOW that can become the most widely used monitoring tool for the water and sanitation sector worldwide, in use across governments, NGOs, the private sector, and knowledge institutes.
What is FLOW?
FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) has been utilized extensively across the world by teams of people working to monitor the status of water points such as wells and pumps.
Using mobile "smartphones" based on the Android operating system, field personnel can complete and input surveys directly into their phone and share this information online. People can manage sets of surveys online and send these to the phone and analyze the data collected. It also brings the information to life by displaying it in Google Maps that people can navigate and explore.
The research and development of FLOW began in 2010 by Water For People, addressing the need to replace cumbersome paper-based monitoring surveys and the delay in manually compiling the information. The system was designed to provide accountability and transparency to donors and the public through fast data collection, survey flexibility, analytical tools for data-driven decision making, and map-based reporting of results.
Last year, Water For People issued a Request for Information (RFI) to identify a partner to continue enhancement of FLOW. The partner required a keen understanding of development work throughout the world, have the capabilities to continue developing FLOW, and have the ability to build out and support a large network of partners to use FLOW as an open source platform. Akvo had planned to expand their work beyond its core product, Akvo Really Simple Reporting, and develop a mobile phone-based monitoring and evaluation tool for its growing network of partners.
The agreement includes the following commitments:
- Akvo will lead on product development while Water For People will lead in product field-testing and monitoring functionality.
- The product is now called Akvo FLOW, and further development will represent a new version of FLOW, to be called Akvo FLOW 2.0.
- The software code supporting Akvo FLOW will be published under an open source AGPL3 license.
- Akvo will be responsible for ongoing support of all instances of Akvo FLOW and will work closely with Water For People to ensure a smooth transition.
The partnership has been designed to maximize key strengths of both organizations. Water For People is a leader in program-level monitoring with innovative monitoring in countries in West and East Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Akvo’s strength in technological development, building partnerships, and providing technology to those partners as a commercial service will greatly benefit the development of Akvo FLOW 2.0.
Our development goals for Akvo FLOW 2.0:
Akvo FLOW will undergo development to expand its features and ensuring it is available to a wider group of users. Improvements will include:
- Making the platform self-service, user-friendly, well documented, supported and affordable, so it can be easily embraced by the development community.
- Adding advanced capabilities such as statistical and geospacial analysis, rich map displays with aerial data summaries, performance over time, scoring and ranking, as well as custom dashboards.
- Developing a user platform where datasets on core indicators and surveys can be shared, creating a rich publicly available data resource for each geographic area.
- Creating the code as open source and the data accessible through an Application Program Interface (API), so that other software developers can contribute and utilize the Akvo FLOW code to create their own data visualizations and analysis applications.
Both Akvo and Water For People are committed to data-driven solutions. Akvo FLOW will allow the water development sector to improve and streamline its efforts. Together, we are also committed to transparency—Akvo FLOW will be a platform for the entire sector, and others, to monitor and share the ongoing results of their development work.
What do you think?