Android devices

Data collection apps


  1. The application ODK Collect
    1. For Kindle Fire, go to the ODK development site and download the app from the left hand panel to your device. Then click on the package and it will install.
    2. For all other Android devices, use the standard process through Google Play
    3. Start the application to make sure it is working and to establish the needed storage folders
  2. The data-collection form
    1. Download the form you want to use to a place where you can find it again without trouble.
      1. Urban Tree Health/Risk, containing a form and its media folder. Includes data collection for the ISA BMP Risk Assessment method.
      2. i-Tree Streets, containing a form
    2. Unzip the package.
    3. Copy the form (and its media folder, if there is one) to the phone, using the method appropriate for your device–for us, the use of a cloud service has proven to be the fastest and easiest.
      NB: both media folder and form must be placed in the directory /odk/forms/ or the app will not see them.


The app itself is pretty much self-explanatory, since when it opens you only have to tap “Fill Blank Form” and then the desired form. After that everything is done with swipes, pull-down menu choices and the occasional direct typing. A nice feature is that you can jump around by tapping your menu button and selecting “Go to Prompt.”

When a form is completed, the user saves and exits. Saved forms filled with data are located in the /odk/instances/ directory on the phone’s SD card; they can be viewed by using the main ODK Collect screen. For other use of the collected data, these “instances” must be transferred from the phone to the host computer, using whatever method is most convenient. One quick and easy means is zip up the entire /sdcard/odk/ directory and use a cloud service such as Dropbox to make it available to your desktop. Alternatively, the ODK Briefcase (see below) can pull them directly from an Android device hooked up by cable.

Note that there is no backend server set up by default, so the buttons “Get Blank Form” and “Send Finalized Form” on the main menu will just produce an error message. To change that behavior, see Advanced use, below.

Data retrieval

  1. Make sure Java 6 or higher is installed on the computer you plan to use. If it is not, download and install it.
  2. Go to the ODK development site, and download the ODK Briefcase from the “Featured” section in the left hand panel to your computer. This is a Java application that works on all platforms.
  3. Start the application by double-clicking it.
  4. Follow the directions to indicate where filled-out forms (“instances”) that have been uploaded to the host computer from the device are to be found, and where the data is to be placed.
  5. To pull instances that have already been uploaded, use the pull-down menu for Pull data from to select “Custom Path to ODK Directory.” To import them directly from your Android device, select “Mounted Android SD Card.”
  6. Whenever ODK Briefcase is opened, it will look in the location specified for instances and list them. The data can then be exported in CSV format and opened in Excel® or compatible spreadsheet.

Advanced use

Consult the Open Data Kit website for methods of deployment and retrieval suitable for larger groups.


If you are interested in being informed of updates to the data-collection forms, send us an email with the subject line notify updates.

Updates to ODK Collect software are handled in the usual manner through Google Play for most Android devices. Kindle users will need to periodically check the ODK development site from which they downloaded the software in the first place. to select