Very easy to use online form to collect sea turtle data

I am trying to develop an online data collection system for sea turtle sighting data in Cambodia. This includes picture upload, name, date, location, species, information on tags, any measurements taken, if it was caughtin fishing gear, and when it was released (and if not, why not). 

I want to have a link form - we believe that having to download a special app to enter data will prevent people from using it. Previous experience showed some of the people likely to be using it didn't even know how to right-click on a computer. This should be very, very simple, and be smartphone friendly.

It must be incredibly easy to use, and ideally have logic jumps. (e.g. is the turtle tagged yes/no -> skip question/which flipper was tagged + what was the tag number). 

Daniel Steadman
Fauna & Flora
Fisheries and Biodiversity Techical Specialist - lead FFI's insititutional fisheries strategy
Group Curator
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Hey Kieran,

I think we touched on this via email, but take a look at this earlier WildLabs thread on this topic that contains some interesting recommendations. We found that - exactly as you describe - the actual initial phase of trying to work out how the form/app would be accessible on someone's smartphone was the big challenge - things like Google Forms/AppSheet etc. actually make this quite difficult. Once people are on the interface, many of the online forms behave and look quite similar. 

What's your ideal "user journey" to actually reach your form? Would the user have a link saved in their browser and then go to that link each time they want to enter some data?

Filip Hnízdo
Octophin Digital
Director at Octophin Digital building things for wildlife conservation.
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Hi @kierancamb 

A colleague of mine let me know about this thread as it's very similar to lots of things we've built (Angel Shark sightings map, Thames Marine Mammal sightings map for example). Thinking about it more this could be a simple online free and open source tool.

It could use a JSON schema compiled form made through an interface much like:

And take a parameter for an email address to send the results to.

You could then save the form schema and the email address in a bookmarkable URL and it could just let people fill the form out and send the results on. Annoyingly URLS have a 2000 character limit but we could take a parameter of a configuration file stored elsewhere (Office Online, Google Docs, PasteBin, GitHub) that way the form would be editable by who created it too.

If anyone has any ideas on this or could also use something like it I'd happily start an open source GitHub project and build the basics.

Have been thinking about doing this for a while.

Hi Kieran and all,

I jump into the topic as I am doing research on data collection through mobile application in conservation. (I currently have a test in Cambodia in the education sector with a mobile app and the possibility for the ngo to push questions through notifications on the user's smartphone).

Kieran could you tell me what are the main problem of downloading an app for your users ? it seems it is a general concern, any idea why ?

i really believe in a system where people providing data should be incentivised for it so the data becomes of higher value and of higher quality.



I'm part of a citizen science  biodiversity project and we ask our citizen scientists to use Kobo Toolbox's webforms to collect field data using a smart phone.  Kobo was started by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and gets funding from various organizations including branches of the United Nations.

KoBoToolbox is a suite of tools for field data collection for use in challenging environments. Our software is free and open source. Most of our users are people working in humanitarian crises, as well as aid professionals and researchers working in developing countries.

Project leaders design a webform and send people a link to the form. People load the  form in a browser when they have internet connection, then go into the field and fill out the form. The forms work both online and offline. If the users fill out the form when there is no internet  connection, the next time the users open the form when there is internet connection, the data is synced to the Kobo servers. 

Kobo has an admin interface where project leaders can view, edit, and download the data. Project leaders can use condtional logic when designing the questions on the  webform (if user answers yes, show question A; if users answers no, show question B).