A feasibility test of using smartphones to collect GPS information in face-to-face surveys


  • Kristen Olson University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • James Wagner University of Michigan




interviewers, GPS, mobile devices, face to face surveys


Survey organizations rely on interviewers to make informed and efficient decisions about their efforts in the field, including which housing units they approach to knock on doors, make appointments, and obtain interviews. This paper presents initial findings from a feasibility test on a face to face survey, the US National Survey of Family Growth, in which the interviewers were equipped with GPS-enabled smartphones. This test included an experiment to determine if the use of the GPS-enabled smartphone altered interviewer behavior. We evaluate interviewer compliance with the GPS request, the effects of using the GPS device on interviewer behavior, and the quality of the recorded GPS points as related to interviewer behaviors. This test also included two surveys of interviewers that were completed after using the smartphone. We report results from these surveys and link one set of survey results to interviewer GPS compliance rates. Implications for future use of GPS devices to monitor and understand interviewer travel behavior are discussed.

Author Biography

Kristen Olson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology




How to Cite

Olson, K., & Wagner, J. (2015). A feasibility test of using smartphones to collect GPS information in face-to-face surveys. Survey Research Methods, 9(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.18148/srm/2015.v9i1.6036




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