The Sapelli Collector Android app is an open-source project that facilitates data collection across language or literacy barriers through highly configurable icon-driven user interfaces. Sapelli was developed with funding from the EPSRC (Project EP/I025278/1) and ERC (Project 694767) by the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group at University College London.

This page describes how personal data are collected, stored and transmitted by Sapelli.

Collected Data

When Sapelli is firstly installed, a unique random identification number (DeviceID) is generated to identify the device. This DeviceID is used when transmitting data, while no other personal information are collected, stored or transferred.

Sapelli is using the “Crashlytics” service by Google Inc. to collect information about how and under what circumstances Sapelli crashed and analytics on how many users interacted with Sapelli. For a full privacy agreement of Crashlytics please refer here.

Sapelli Projects

Sapelli can be used on different projects to collect data. Each project is composed of a sequence of interfaces that will be presented to the user as described in the project’s XML file. These screens, depending on the project’s scope, will allow the user to collect the following data:

Location & Orientation: A Location screen allows the user to provide their location as a form of data collection. Whilst an Orientation screen records the device’s orientation at a precise point in time. The Location screen can collect the latitude, longitude, altitude, bearing and speed from a user’s device. For more information on the Location and Orientation screen, please check here.

Photo & Video: A Photo screen allows the user to take photos as a form of data collection, while the Video screen allows the user to capture a video. For more information on the Photo and Video screens, please check here and here respectively.

Audio: An Audio screen allows the user to make a voice recording for data collection. For more information, please check here.

Logging: If enabled on a project, Sapelli will automatically collect analytics or usage statistics on which screens of the project are visited. This enables project designer’s to improve the structure of their projects. No personal information are collected during the logging functionality.


Data access and transmission

In terms of data access, Sapelli offers three possible methods to access or transmit the collected data:

Export to phone: This method does not require phone signal or internet connection. This option may be useful where a user is in the field in a remote location and they wish to export the data they have collected to their own device. At a later stage, they can then transfer their exported data to a computer for analysis. In order to export the collected data, the user has to follow the following procedure. This allows the users to have a full backup of their collected data, without sharing the data with any third parties.

Sending data between phones: This method does require phone signal but not internet connection. A user can send their data to another user’s device using SMS. The receiver can then either transfer the data to a computer or send the data to a web server for analysis. Note that although the ID numbers and values of media files will be sent, the media files themselves (i.e. an actual photo) will not be sent due to the limited file size of SMS messages. In order to send data via SMS, Sapelli needs write and read access to the device’s SMS functionality. However, Sapelli does not handle, store or access any non Sapelli related SMS. In order to send data via SMS, the user has to enable the functionality by following the steps here and the transmitted data are transferred in an encoded format. When sending data via SMS, on the receiver’s side, Sapelli keeps a record of the sender’s device phone number to differentiate data coming from different devices.

Sending data to web server: This method does require internet connection. A user can send their data to a web server (GeoKey), an open platform set up to receive and store the data collected by users. In order to send data to GeoKey, a user has to follow these instructions. The data transfer to GeoKey is made over a secure HTTPS connection to ensure user privacy.

UCL ExCiteS projects

All the Sapelli projects created, managed and distributed by Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group, are registered with the UCL Data Protection Officer and are subject to the following approved Ethics Form. Thus, data collected under these projects are handled as described in the research Ethics Form.

Sapelli projects that are developed and distributed by third parties, are not subject to the UCL Data Protection and should include a separate User Data Policy describing how collected data are treated.