Data collection in developing nations usually involves heaps of paperwork and maddening data entry. But public-health workers in 15 sub-Saharan nations are using pioneering software from the D.C.-based not-for-profit DataDyne to digitize and streamline the process. Cofounder Rose Donna explains how EpiSurveyor can be more efficient than paper surveys: "With a question like, 'Are you male or are you female?' people were being asked if they were pregnant even if they answered male. Eliminating those problems strengthens the quality of the data." The technology has been so successful that the World Health Organization, the UN Foundation, and the Vodafone Foundation announced in September that they will help DataDyne disseminate it in 22 African countries by the end of 2008 and in Asia next year.
A version of this article appeared in the December/January 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.