Currently, the majority of international development agencies are responsible for self-reporting their project outcomes, often involving infrequent and expensive expert spot-checks or field surveys. These results may demonstrate individual project success while meta-surveys indicate persistent, daunting challenges in the sector.
This disconnect can be addressed through independent data monitoring technologies that provide objective data on program performance and technology use and can be used to demonstrate success and identify project weaknesses. Once truly successful technologies and programs have been identified, these approaches can be targeted for scaling to larger populations. Simultaneously, agencies and beneficiaries alike will save funds, time, and energy by eliminating unsuccessful approaches.
Instrumented monitoring via distributed data collection platforms can provide crucial evidence to help inform the global development sector and the public of the effectiveness of these efforts as well as on-going challenges. SWEETLab at Portland State University, a DIL Co-Investigator campus, has designed and validated an integrated sensor platform with cellular-to-internet reporting specifically targeted at global development programs. The integrated hardware platform has been applied to water, sanitation, energy, and infrastructure interventions and has been validated through laboratory calibration and field observations.