In the past, a data call was usually conducted via email. In this manner, it could take up to several weeks for responses to trickle in. The replies filled up email inboxes and often came back in different formats, which required our team to spend time cleaning up the data, and meant a higher chance of errors.
To capture the data on the printer inventory, we decided to use a Google Form. The form could be emailed directly to people across NOAA, and forwarded on to others as needed. As soon as someone completes the form, the response is captured together with the name of the person submitting it and the date and time it was submitted. This streamlined collection process saves us half the time we previously spent collecting data.And all responses are consolidated in a single spreadsheet, which makes analyzing the data a snap.
What's more, all the responses can be shared with everyone who completes the form, making it a more open and transparent data collection process. By reducing the amount of time it takes, improving data quality and doing so in a more transparent way, my colleagues and I have transformed data collection at NOAA.