Survalytics: An Open-Source Cloud-Integrated Experience Sampling, Survey, and Analytics and Metadata Collection Module for Android Operating System Apps

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016 Jun 3;4(2):e46. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.5397.


Background: We describe here Survalytics, a software module designed to address two broad areas of need. The first area is in the domain of surveys and app analytics: developers of mobile apps in both academic and commercial environments require information about their users, as well as how the apps are being used, to understand who their users are and how to optimally approach app development. The second area of need is in the field of ecological momentary assessment, also referred to as experience sampling: researchers in a wide variety of fields, spanning from the social sciences to psychology to clinical medicine, would like to be able to capture daily or even more frequent data from research subjects while in their natural environment.

Objective: Survalytics is an open-source solution for the collection of survey responses as well as arbitrary analytic metadata from users of Android operating system apps.

Methods: Surveys may be administered in any combination of one-time questions and ongoing questions. The module may be deployed as a stand-alone app for experience sampling purposes or as an add-on to existing apps. The module takes advantage of free-tier NoSQL cloud database management offered by the Amazon Web Services DynamoDB platform to package a secure, flexible, extensible data collection module. DynamoDB is capable of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant storage of personal health information.

Results: The provided example app may be used without modification for a basic experience sampling project, and we provide example questions for daily collection of blood glucose data from study subjects.

Conclusions: The module will help researchers in a wide variety of fields rapidly develop tailor-made Android apps for a variety of data collection purposes.

Keywords: Amazon Web Services; Android; DynamoDB; NoSQL; analytics; ecological momentary assessment; experiential sampling; microsurveys; mobile surveys; quantified self; surveys.