This fall, a mobile app will help track the transportation patterns of tens of thousands of San Diego residents as part of a survey that will inform long-term regional planning decisions, reports the San Diego Union Tribune. The survey will help the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) make decisions about where new development should be allowed, which highways and public transit corridors should get priority improvements, and more.
Two hundred thousand San Diego County households — about 1 in 5 residences — will be asked to participate. If they agree, they can choose to be surveyed by phone, mail or website. They also have the option to download rMove, an app that uses GPS to track where they go, providing “an unprecedented level of detail on people’s transportation choices,” according to the Tribune. They’ll be asked questions about when and where they travel; whether they use public transit, drive alone, carpool, walk or bike; and how much they spend on transportation.
Those who choose to download the app will also launch It whenever they take a trip, from a walk down the block to their daily commute. All participants will receive a $10-20 gift card.
SANDAG hopes around 55,000 households will agree to participate, app or not. The agency has conducted transportation behavior surveys before, most recently in 2006, when a study found that on any given weekday the average San Diego County resident makes 3.95 trips that take 17.86 minutes each. While that survey did include detailed analysis on mode of transportation, start and end points, and other metrics, this year’s survey is expected to be more comprehensive.
It’s also the first survey the agency has conducted using smartphones. “Technology has really changed the scenario for how it’s all done,” says Cindy Burke, SANDAG’s director of applied research.
Data collection will continue through December, and a report will be out in the spring. SANDAG has a two-year, $1.75 million contract with research firm Resource Systems group to conduct the survey, with funding from the federal government.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.