Where Are You At? Using GPS Locations in an Electronic Time Use Diary Study to Derive Functional Locations


Smartphones enable the passive collection of sensor data alongside to survey participation. Location data add context to people’s reports about their time use. In addition, linking GPS data to self-reported time use surveys can be valuable for understanding how people spend their time. This article investigates whether and how the passive collection of geographical location data (coordinates) proves useful for deriving functional locations of respondents.
Participants of the ongoing Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in the Netherlands (CILS4EU) were invited to participate in time use survey administered with a smartphone app that also unobtrusively tracked the respondents’ locations. Respondents filled out their activities for 10-minute intervals in a smartphone diaryapp (N = 1339) and shared their location data (N=1,264). The concordance between the functional locations derived from the time use data with those derived from the geographical location data was assessed, by crosstabulating the codes from the two different sources and subsequently calculating the percentage similarly coded.
We recorded at what location every activity took place, and matched this to GPS locations. Overall, results show that we can automatically assign the home location, but we need respondent information to assign a work or school location. In addition, a lot of measurement errors occur in the location tracking data making it difficult to record locations. Multilevel models show that the variability in correct classifications is intrapersonal and largely predicted by phone type, which is intertwined with location measurement frequency.

Social Science Computer Review, forthcoming