Rotator Survey OffLine Interviews on Mobile Devices
Encuestas Offline

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.

Encuestas Offline en celulares

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

  • 1. Enter each of your questions (Activity 1, Step "Questions"), define jumps and flow formulas if needed (Step "Flow").
  • 2. Add instructions and intro text of the questionnaire.
  • 3. Click on the large blue icon shown to display the screen of the mobile interviewers. If you do not agree with the texts, jumps and instructions, go back to the previous steps and make the necessary adjustments.
  • 4. Define each of the mobile interviewers in the system, in the step: "Work Team" of Activity 2. Add mobile users by assigning them a "Login" and a password and select the role "Mobile interviewer". (Remember to compile)
  • 5. Run the "Google Chrome" browser on the tablet and navigate to the URL:, or install the App for offline surveys "Rotator Mobile Interview" from Google Play on each of the mobile devices you will use in the field. (For large and complex studies it is preferable to use the Chrome browser and the indicated url: https:// Both options, App and URL are identical and work in OffLine mode).
  • 6.Enter your mobile device with an Internet connection, add your survey to the list of surveys, to do so enter your login and password and the questionnaire number that will be assigned by Rotator, disconnect the equipment if you wish and apply the interview in the field.

How to apply the offline mobile survey?

  • 1. The operator must enter the mobile device and run the App "Rotator Encuesta Móvil" in which you will be asked for your login and pasword.
  • 2. The operator presses "New interview"
  • 3. The operator applies the survey to the interviewee, asking each of the questions of the questionnaire, and at the end presses "Save".
  • 4. At the end of the cycle of field interviews, and when there is an Internet connection, the operator can select the option "Send data".

Working modes of an offline survey

Rotator offers two (2) modes for mobile offline surveys: "Open" and "Closed".

Mode: "Offline Open Survey"

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.

Mode: "Offline Closed Survey"

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)

Important considerations to take into account in offline surveys
  • 1. Rotator's offline interview does not require an internet connection, it can be conducted anywhere regardless of whether or not there is an internet signal.
  • 2. You can use any mobile device that supports Android, iOS, Windows 8 RT, etc., provided that they have been purchased after January 2015.
  • 3. If during the course of the field process, it is required to make changes to the questionnaire, such as adding questions, deleting or adding modalities, etc. Simply reconnect the equipment and refresh the questionnaire. Existing data in the device before the change will not be affected.

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