What is an offline survey?
An offline survey is a survey that does not require an online connection (internet) to be applied in the field, since the captured data is stored directly in the memory of the mobile device where the survey is applied. Offline surveys are therefore very useful in today's market research, where it is necessary to apply non-self-administered questionnaires, that is, through field interviewers. Thus, the offline mobile interview will allow us to conduct a face-to-face interview with the subject we are researching (CAPI: Computer Aided Personal Interview). In the past, this type of survey was conducted using a laptop, palm or notebook computer with a program installed that allowed the responses to be typed in using a keyboard. Many researchers even used Excel or Word to collect the data in the field, which were then transferred to SPSS or a data processing program.
Typical applications of offline questionnaires
The offline survey is useful when you want to collect data using a force of field interviewers and through the use of mobile-cell technology, whether the interview site is in remote locations where the online or data network connection is not available, or the internet or data network signal is not 100% guaranteed. Currently in Latin America, offline surveys are being used in agricultural census studies, studies of peasant farms, electoral polls in the interior of the country, and also in urban centers such as shopping malls, hotel lobbies, etc. Thus, the offline survey shows its full potential when the subject to be surveyed is in remote places, with no or little internet connection.
Ventajas y desventajas de la encuesta Offline
The great advantage offered by the offline survey is precisely the disconnection at the time of the interview. Thus, no internet signal is required for field application and data is emptied directly into the internal memory of the mobile device. Another advantage is that despite being disconnected, and thanks to technological advances, it is possible to geolocate the point of the interview using the device's GPS, take photos, record audio or capture the signature of the respondent in situ, all of which is done offline. Later, when the tablet or cell phone has a Wifi or data network signal, you can transfer the collected data as well as the photos and audio to a repository, cloud or central server. Among the disadvantages of this type of survey is the excessive technological dependence on the technical characteristics of the cell phones or tablets used, so some elements will become critical during the interview, such as battery life, screen brightness, GPS sensitivity and memory capacity available. In addition to the above, sometimes it is difficult to conduct the interview in open places with rain or excessive humidity, or where the rates of theft or crime are high, because the cell phone or tablet may be subject to theft in certain locations.
The geolocation of the offline survey
One of the advances achieved in the design of fourth generation cell phones and tablets is the possibility of collecting the geographic location of the point of the interview, or what is technically called "Geolocation", that is, the recording of the latitude and longitude coordinates - according to international cartographic standards - of the point where the survey has been applied. In order to collect the geolocation of each point where the survey is applied, several conditions must be met, 1) First, the device must have a physical or virtual GPS, 2) Second, the satellite signal must be strong enough to be able to detect it, given that sometimes and for atmospheric reasons, the satellite signal is weak, 3) Third, the interviewer activates the GPS on the cell phone or tablet at the time of the interview and 4) Fourth, the interview is applied in an appropriate place, because if it is applied in a basement or enclosed office, the device will not be able to collect the geolocation.
Cómo programar una encuesta Off-line con RotatorSurvey
How to apply the offline mobile survey?
Rotator offers two (2) modes for mobile offline surveys: "Open" and "Closed".
In the open-ended offline survey there is no specific sample (Intentional or Probabilistic), but any person can be surveyed. This mode is ideal for massive surveys to be applied in shopping malls, events, congresses, etc. It is recommended to request the ID of the interviewee to avoid being surveyed more than once.
In the closed offline survey, only people who are part of a database (Intentional or Probabilistic Sample) can answer it. The software will ask for an ID to identify the subject to be surveyed and will validate that this ID is registered in the participants' database. The "closed" mode is ideal for household surveys with probability samples, honeycomb studies to visit on site, store audits, named customer satisfaction surveys. In this mode the user can edit their data once loaded and there is the possibility of maintaining the history of each respondent over time. (Longitudinal study)
The best Apps to apply offline surveys
Currently there are a large number of applications on the market or Apps to conduct surveys on mobile devices offline and that promise to make the data collection in a 100% disconnected. Our company has evaluated many of these applications and what we have found is that they lack many of the advanced options demanded by market research companies, both in the aspect of data validation, as in the management of the flow of the questionnaire, as well as the support of professional options such as quota control, the management of participant bases, voice recording of the interview, supervision of the work in real time by named user, among many other options that are required. Here is our sincere assessment of these tools for offline surveys, hoping that most of them will improve or disappear from the market. We recommend the researcher to evaluate at least 5 of these Apps for offline surveys, and select those that best suit the requirements of the Study, which may include: Complex flows and jump logic, need to take pictures in the field, record sounds or collect unstructured data. In addition to all this, it is important that the App for surveys to be selected has a good technical support and a professional development team to support it. Finally, that the price of the App is adjusted to the budget of the research project.
Recommended readings and sites for further discussion on the possibilities of offline CAPI surveys
SurveyMonkey Anywhere: collect survey data online or offline