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Reaching the last mile in India for data collection

Reaching the last mile in India for data collection

In a population of about 1.25 billion people in India, only 18% people have access to the Internet. That is, 225 million people. This essentially means that the opinion of over 900 million Indians does not even get factored into Big Data while making policies. For India, small data means ‘big’ and Outline India enables this access. We provide authentic, reliable and updated, qualitative and quantitative on-field data to our clients so that all the analysis based decisions made by them thereupon are wholesome, accurate and therefore impactful.

We live in a dynamic era where the talk of hour seems to span heavily from topics such as machine learning to longitudinal data analysis across numerous sectors involving education, health, businesses and even sports. However, very little is openly talked about the instances when data driven analysis didn’t lead to accurate on-field measures because the primary data analyzed was itself inaccurate and faulty. Established in 2012, Outline India is a research organization that solves this problem by using the conflux created by human resource and technology. We are also probably the first social organization in India to collect authentic ground level data using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).



So far, our team has worked in over 1400 villages across 21 states in India and successfully provided desired tangible solutions to our multifarious stakeholders ranging from government bodies, NGOs, CSR wings of multinational corporates, educational institutes and private businesses to name a few.

Apart from catering to our data collection service, we conduct research related projects, perform numerous on-field studies according to client requirements and also design and conduct M&E services. Our work focuses on maximizing ground level impact, given the fund and resource limitations, without compromising on intellectual capital, technical knowhow, or going the extra mile to seek answers. In short, we try to bridge the gap between a traditional think tank and a data collection agency with our ‘ground up’ model.

Outline India has been working in various fields namely Health, Education, Agriculture, Governance, Water and Sanitation, Environment, Evaluation & Entrepreneurship, with 42 projects spread across Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and 14 other states & Union Territories. With over 77000 interactions and a direct reach of over 318,000 people, we take pride in providing 5,000+ man days of work for individuals with high school to little or no college education.

Our robust intervention process is strictly non-generic in nature, for, we firmly believe that every problem statement is unique and carries with it a different level of sensitivity, requires a unique blend of gender divide and demands an optimal mix of on-field human resource with varied age groups and work experience. We are personally involved at each stage of the research process – from formulating the research plan to designing the survey tool, field mapping, creating field guides and research manuals for our field training. This includes quality monitoring procedures including unannounced visits, and using technology as a platform for the same. Our field teams are specially trained, daily targets are set and dummy drills are conducted internally before the teams set out for the actual on-field work irrespective of the project scale and size.

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Recently, we have engaged ourselves in a new and exciting venture of conducting field mapping using UAVs that can assist us with house listing and census exercises. We are one of India’s first research agencies to engage in aerial technology to carry out access mapping in the development sector. Currently, we are setting up a tool library to provide for a knowledge sharing program and establishing a Visiting Fellows program to allow PhD students to get a peek into our on-ground work. Our target is to go beyond assigned projects and develop knowledge portals that can directly feed into the on-going work of intervention agencies, implementing partners and policy makers. In the near future, we will expand our on-ground operations within India and also spread to the other parts of the Indian sub-continent.


Author: Saurav Jhajharia

Saurav is the Business Development Officer at Outline India. Besides handling external communications, Saurav works on developing marketing strategies for increasing company outreach across the country. A Gandhi Fellowship alum, Saurav has spent 2 years actively working in rural Rajasthan to explore, understand and eradicate pressing problems related to elementary education in India.

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