University of Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico use SmartSurvey to gather data following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.


The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is the main public university system on the Caribbean island, with approximately 58,000 students. Following Hurricane Maria in September 2017, regarded as the worst natural disaster on record on the island, the university reached out to SmartSurvey for help with data collection relating to a technical assistance project for a community aqueduct in Puerto Rico.

The requirement

The Juan Asencio community in Aguas Buenas is one of the many rural regions in Puerto Rico that still lacks electricity. The project that the university was working on needed to create an offline survey to collect valuable data from the residents, who had no power or internet connection due to the impact of Hurricane Maria.

The project, Building Resilient Communities, aimed to provide technical assistance to optimize community aqueducts and prevent pollution to the community of Juan Asencio, which has 260 residencies and 1,000 inhabitants. This rural community lacks a general public water service provided by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), and must manage, treat, and distribute its own water supply.

The project that the university assisted with aimed to provide;

  • Guidance on the management of hazardous waste
  • Assistance in water and energy conservation to the water system of this non-PRASA community
  • Develop workshops through various educational methods

The solution

The university’s objective was to find out the needs and risks of House Hazardous Materials by carrying out a survey. They faced the difficult challenge of being unable to collect and store data offline, so they contacted SmartSurvey about our Enterprise survey software, that would allow them to create and use offline surveys.

The Offline Survey Tool, enabled UPR to;

  1. Capture relevant, accurate data in the field at the point of experience
  2. Load their offline survey to a smartphone or tablet and take it to any location
  3. Download responses automatically when a connection was re-established
SmartSurvey not only helped researchers conduct a survey that will impact the community’s awareness on their unknowing misuse of hazardous materials, but also helped us advise the local population in an appropriate and efficient mannerLoraima, University of Puerto Rico

The results

From the results collated by the SmartSurvey software tool, it was possible to assess the impact of the mismanagement of the hazardous materials by the local community in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Research found that;

  • 43% of the population of the Juan Asencio community own electronic items that do not function without batteries, such as cell phones and computers
  • 100% of the population use small batteries to power these electronic items, such as AAA and AA sizes
  • Citizens were not discarding used batteries appropriately to avoid damaging the environment
  • Most citizens did not realize that they were using repellents and herbicides that contained hazardous chemical compounds, such as oxybenzene, biphenols, flalates, or dioxanes

By using SmartSurvey’s offline survey tool, UPR have been able to conduct research that will enable improvements to be carried out to aid the island’s recovery after the storm.

The SmartSurvey platform has been a key element for the data, analysis, and offline data collection for this project. Consequently, despite the community lacking electric power due to hurricanes Irma and Maria, the results of our analysis concluded that there is a great need to guide the community on the proper use and disposal of hazardous materialsLoraima, University of Puerto Rico
University of Puerto Rico
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