• Presentation

General Survey System: A Mobile Technologies System for Data Collection and Management


Levinsohn, J. R., Medeiros, D. D., Duke, J. C., Yost, P. A., Litavecz, S. D., Zhang, Y., & Karlsen, R. (2010, November). General Survey System: A Mobile Technologies System for Data Collection and Management. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Exposition, Denver, CO.


Background: RTI International has been developing mobile data capture systems for the past 10 years. One of these capture methodologies has been arming Field Interviewers with handheld computers and software that manages the capture of interview or inventory data in highly mobile environments such as household doorway screening and interviewing, vendor surveys, intercept surveys and for hospitals. This paper describes the current state of the system and its uses for capturing health data.

Objective/Purpose: This paper will introduce the General Survey System (GSS) for handheld computers and discuss study implementation aspects inclusive of prevalence surveys with global surveillance relevance. The GSS will be described, its features explained, and its use in survey data collection and management examined.

Methods: Based on federally funded projects, RTI International has developed a handheld computer based system for mobile data HP iPAQ and Windows based SmartPhones. GSS is a form based system that allows users to develop forms and logic to manage and direct the data capture process. It has been developed in Microsoft Visual Basic.net and supports:
• A wide variety of data types
• Range and validity checking
• GPS Capture
• Dynamic sample selection in real time
• Complex data capture logic and sequences
• Large capacity data storage
• Case management and status recording
• PC based developers environment for instrument development and data processing
•Data file format usable by statistical software
• Internationalization: supports multiple languages and complex Unicode fonts (e.g. Arabic, Mandarin)

Results: The GSS has been in production for over 5 years and has been used to conduct over 200,000 interviews in more than a dozen countries in 30 languages for more than a dozen study applications.

Conclusion: GSS is a mature survey system that is available for the research community.

Learning Objectives:
•Describe the utility of mobile computer managed data collection
•Describe the GSS mobile data collection features
•Appreciate the survey system’s application to health related data collection
•Discuss future plans in public health surveillance mobile data collection and management