Version 23.04

April 23, 2023

In this new version we extend the features of Survey Solutions by adding a map dashboard for the Supervisor App and other changes and improvements listed below. Adding a map dashboard for the Supervisor app and navigation enhancements were implemented with funding and support from the UNHCR World Bank Joint Data Center (JDC) as part of the project to improve the quality of data on refugees and internally displaced persons.

New feature: Map dashboard in the Supervisor app

One of the key responsibilities of the supervisors is to ensure the data collection is done in the proper areas as assigned to the interviewers. Staying within assigned areas can be difficult for interviewers when the boundaries are not tied to visible natural or man-made boundaries (rivers, roads, etc.) It is even more difficult when the boundaries of area of responsibility are completely virtual, such as the case with spatial sampling where a sampled area is just a range of coordinates. Supervisors working online can see the locations of the submitted data on a map dashboard, but this functionality was missing in the Supervisor App on mobile devices, which is used by supervisors of teams when they are working in remote locations where internet-connectivity is sporadic or non-existent.

The new functionality is akin to the map dashboard present in the Interviewer App, but note an important difference on how the status of the interviews is indicated for the supervisors. The color coding is relevant to the supervisor, so the completed interviews are marked as blue for the supervisors, because they require supervisor’s action – a quality control decision on whether to approve or reject them, while they are indicated with green color at the interviewers’ dashboards, because they don’t require any more work. Similarly the interviews that are approved by the supervisor, or rejected by the supervisor are both shown in green color, because the supervisor has already taken her action on them. Red color is used for the interviews that were rejected by the headquarters, to signify that the superiors were not satisfied with the supervisor’s decision to approve that interview. The map dashboard can also display the interviews in the status Interviewer Assigned, which indicates interviews in progress. They are also indicated in green, as they don’t require a supervisor’s involvement until completed.

Read more in the Supervisor map dashboard article.

New feature: Navigation to destination

Navigation to destination facilitates locating the targeted location when its coordinates are known, for example from the previous visit or a listing survey. This feature works by establishing a collaboration between the Survey Solutions app (Interviewer or Supervisor) which stores the GPS location data and a user-installed mapping app that visualizes that location and possibly shows a route from the present location to the target.

This feature is now available both for the Interviewer and the Supervisor apps, and can be called from any GPS location question, including the ones that are not on the cover page, which is useful if the GPS location question is in a roster (that is common for listing questionnaires) or in a section tracking visits.

Read more on this feature in the Navigation to Destination article.

New feature: Control over relinking of the mobile device

Survey Solutions establishes a tie between the interviewer (account) and the actual mobile device used to submit the information to the server. In the past it was possible to switch the device through a process known as re-linking, which was intended to be used in the situations when the interviewer’s mobile device is lost, stolen, or permanently damaged. We have been notified by the users community that the relinking process could have caused undesirable consequences when used carelessly, such as when the interviewers are made aware of each other’s passwords, causing interference between various interviewer accounts.

To alleviate the problem, we introduce the mechanism to control relinking of the device by the interviewer. This is now regulated by a new account-specific permission visible as a checkbox in the interviewer’s profile:

The interviewer may relink to a new device when this checkbox for his/her account is set.

Note that the initial attachment of the device does not require a supervisor’s action to set this permission! It is only required to relink to a new (second, third, etc) device.

This new setting is available for the supervisor and superior users (headquarters, administrator).

See also: consequences of relinking a tablet device.

Maintenance procedure M1 is made accessible for remote administration

Maintenance procedure M1 was useful and effective for the users experiencing problems with export of data, but it had two problems:

  • First, it was a manual procedure that required access to the DB on the server where it needs to be performed, which is not available to the users of the Survey Solutions connecting through the internet.

  • Second, it was prone to human error, as a user could accidentally delete more than needed, causing serious data damage.

We have added interface to launch this procedure remotely by an administrator user. This functionality is accessible from the workspace context menu (click on any workspace, select Settings, then scroll to paragraph Clear export cache):

When the administrator user clicks the Clear cache button the server will:

  • perform the procedure known as M1 in the maintenance list (remove schemas in the DB that are storing the data prepared for export);
  • delete any export files currently saved at the file system corresponding to surveys in the current workspace.

Note that the first export after this procedure may take considerable time to re-create required export schemas.

Note also, that this procedure does not erase data stored in the cloud storage (if you’ve redirected storage of export data to the cloud).

Other changes:

  • PLEASE NOTE: The minimum required version of the Android operating system on a mobile device for use with the Android-based apps (Interviewer, Supervisor, Tester) is now 6.0. If the manufacturer of your device provides an update of the Operating System, please, do update the OS before updating the Survey Solutions Apps, as they will not be able to run correctly in an outdated version of the OS.

  • The versions of Android below 9.0 are out of support now, they do not receive security and maintenance updates. We do not recommend using the devices based on older/unsupported Android for data collection, and will increase the minimum version of the Android OS in future versions in line with the earlier announcement.

  • Users working with the Designer tool will find that the entry fields for the question’s enabling condition and categorical question’s filter are behind the corresponding links: ADD ENABLING CONDITION and ADD FILTER. (In the past the users often confused the two conditions). Once the condition is specified, it will be displayed without the need to click on the link.

  • Change of the format of categories upload files in the Designer. When uploading categories from a text file that file must now have a header that specifies the meaning of the information stored in that column. This allows to avoid confusion in the situations when the content of the file may not be interpreted uniquely and where in the past the program was using not-obvious defaults to guess the type of content. The recognized column names are: id, text, attachmentname and parentid. With the introduction of the header, the columns may now appear in any order. If you have an older file prepared for use with the Survey Solutions Designer, add just the header line denoting which column has which content. Note that the parentid column is only relevant for cascading selection questions.

  • Password reset of Interviewer and Supervisor users by the Headquarters users. With the introduction of multiple workspaces the Headquarters and supervisor users have lost the ability to reset interviewers’ passwords. Indeed, the interviewer account may belong to multiple workspaces where the HQ user may not have access. If HQ retained a possibility to reset the password, that would be overstepping the allowed domain. Yet concentrating all powers to reset the passwords in the hands of the administrative user has proven too inconvenient for some surveys with a very wide base (a lot of interviewers) or operations spread across multiple time zones, etc, which made it difficult for the administrator to be sufficiently responsive to the password reset requests. We bring back the possibility for the Headquarters users (but not supervisors) to reset interviewers’ passwords, provided that that Headquarters user has access to all the workspaces that the interviewer is accessing. If there is even a single workspace for that interviewer that the HQ is not permitted to access, that will block for that HQ to reset the password of that interviewer and such cases must be elevated to the administrator.

  • Supervisor’s name didn’t appear as a possible selection for filtering assignments, interviews, or making reassignments. This has been fixed. The supervisor now has the possibility to narrow down the lists of interviews and assignments to the ones that she is responsible for, and to make reassignments of interviews and assignments to herself.

  • Answering questions in table-rosters (web interviews only) previously required to double-click a cell. This has been changed. Only a single click is now required.

  • For administrator users who are troubleshooting connectivity issues we’ve added an indicator Designer connection check to the Healthcheck page. It verifies and reports whether the Designer is reachable from the Headquarters. If the Designer site is not reachable, the users will not have a possibility to import any questionnaires to this server. This is usually the result of network policies and restrictions imposed on the data server, rather than availability of the Designer.

  • For HQ-users there are additional statistics reported for each export job (visible on the data export page). Once the export file is produced, the corresponding card now displays the duration that job has spent in the waiting queue and in processing.

  • The map dashboard for online users now supports overlaying of shapefiles. This helps checking whether the interviewers are collecting data in the proper areas.