We're looking to launch a study that examines spatial behaviour on a university campus. Given the near ubiquity of smartphones among our study population, we're excited about the possibility of using GPS tracking via a smartphone app to garner microscale travel behaviour data that could be analysed in conjunction with retrospective interviews.

We're keen to minimise privacy intrusion (and battery drain) by only tracking behaviour on campus. We'd also like to minimise responded burden by making the application operate silently "in the background" and easy to opt-out of at any time after giving consent.

What apps are available to collect this data? Are there any ethics or privacy issues we should be aware of?

  • 3
    As it stands I think your Question is too broad for our focussed Q&A format especially since you included a second main question on privacy at the end. I think you should edit your Question to focus on what apps can Geofence their operation to be only within your university campus, and then research/ask any remaining questions separately.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 2:47
  • That sounds like a very interesting study. I remember talking to a college a few years ago about a similar study involving cattle movements (draw your own parallels), but that wasn't smartphones it was GPS units affixed to horns. Since then technology has improved greatly. Ethics and privacy depends on what you're using the information for and how much personal information you're collecting; let the users decide on what information they are happy to share before opting in. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 2:51
  • If you keep a common identifier over all user tracks over the course of e.g. a semester, then you can most definately personally match a user id to a name, though maybe not automatically. So you'll probably have to consider your data as personally identifiable data, which may require stricter rules for handling (at least in germany it does).
    – til_b
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 7:00
  • see gis.stackexchange.com/questions/23848/…
    – Mapperz
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:43
  • For list of apps, see travelsurveymanual.org/Chapter-26-3.html. For more on our work, see plus.google.com/104230720789224785692/posts/RSSRmae9ZS9 Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:55


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