Dimagi: Mobile Data Collection for Low-Resource Settings

In this episode, we talk with Cory Zue, the Chief Accelerator and former CTO of Dimagi, in their Cape Town office. Dimagi makes it easy to create mobile data-collection apps for low-resource settings, for efforts ranging from maternal and newborn healthcare in India to school enrollment in Thailand. We discuss building a platform that is both general and usable, preventing “pilotitis” (pilot projects that don’t sustain impact), scaling instantaneously, open-sourcing code, and more.

Highlights

“Every project is different and so when you're building a platform, the needs of, you know, a tuberculosis workflow in India is going to be completely different from the needs of a maternal and child health workflow in South Africa. And so flexibility has been obviously really important… Our fundamental data model is a ‘case’ and it's a very intentionally generic word.”

“The money would disappear and… the project would often shut down… That was sort of a common thing in the ICTD space at that time… [Now] there's a much bigger ecosystem of off the shelf tools that you can use to solve these problems.”

Local buy-in is incredibly important… All of the projects that have truly scaled for us have been done with… almost in every case close collaboration with the government.”

“For us it was like, now we have 10,000 people and a year from now we're going to have 200,000 people… and so we had to sort of figure out how to scale without having the scaling happening.”

“From a business perspective, [open-sourcing the code] helps as well because I think lot of these governments and other large stakeholders would not feel comfortable deploying an entire health system that was reliant on some American company. So if they know they have the option to fork the code… gives them a lot of peace of mind.”

Learn More

  • To learn more about Dimagi, check out their website at dimagi.com.

Julia Neidert