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RUNOMI meets Upinion

23 February 2021

“Don’t talk about us, talk to us” – Dr. Rouba Mhaissen

RUNOMI hosted a meeting with Upinion, which is a very promising digital two-way communication platform that enables organisations and academia to connect with people in crisis. Upinion helps to collect their insights via a secure tool built on top of social media messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. It ensures a solid M&E mechanism, in which impact over time can be measured timely and feedback results can be shared back. Upinion has at its core to amplify people’s voices in crisis situations, by involving them in research, and making sure the research can be of actual benefit to them.

Several researchers from Radboud University joined and listened to Pinar Okur’s (Senior Humanitarian and Development Advisor) introduction of Upinion. She explained the concept and gave a demo on how it functions in real life. Upinion recruits participants via social media. Once the participants click on the advertisement, they are forwarded to a secure connection where they answer a survey in a chat-like manner via, for instance, Whatsapp. This means that participants do not have to download a new app, and their privacy is kept secure throughout the correspondence, and the researcher can stay in contact with the respondent without physically visiting them. Upinion also took illiteracy into account, by having the opportunity to send and fill in surveys through voice message or voice mail, or by answering in colours or emoticons.

Pinar gave a demo on how Upinion would function in real life. The output from such surveys is then converted into images like diagrams, but researchers also have access to the raw data. In order to be as transparent as possible, Upinion shares this data back to the respondents, and if relevant to them, they can stay in contact with the researcher. Upinion makes sure to update the data regularly, and the respondents are able to give their feedback on it. The last six months this has resulted in Upinion inviting respondents to important international meetings where they can speak for themselves and raise issues that are important to them, instead of having a spokesperson or representative speaking for them. This way not just the stakeholders, but the voices of the people living in crisis areas are heard.

Upinion helps NGOs and its researchers by monitoring the process of data collection and keeping an eye on things changing. Since Upinion works transparent, this increases accountability and keeps the respondents in the lead of what is happening. Sharing expertise with local actors, and including these local actors is what Upinion strives to do. Moreover, the respondent’s security and protection are secured by Upinion because they own certificates on how to deal with classified data storage and analyses. Due to a digital overlay Upinion is not able to see the respondent’s personal information, thereby there is the possibility to turn on a ‘private mode’ when answering questions. This means that the moment a question is pushed, both the question and the answer will disappear on the device of the respondent. Upinion sees it as necessary to not ask questions for the sake of knowing but with keeping in mind what’s in it for the respondent.

In summary, Upinion provides for an easy and constant way to stay in contact with respondents, especially during COVID-19 times, and it provides a solution from start to the end of the final report. Moreover, Upinion’s method of collecting data saves time, is uncomplicated and, compared to traditional data collection, less expensive.
If you would like to know more about Upinion, please see their website or contact the RUNOMI office.

We would like to thank Pinar for her interesting presentation on Upinion, and the RUNOMI members for participating in this meeting and asking critical questions!