We want it all: experiences from a survey seeking to capture social network structures, lifetime events and short-term travel and activity planning

  • Chiara Calastri
  • Romain Crastes dit Sourd
  • Stephane Hess


Recent work in transport research has increasingly tried to broaden out beyond traditional areas such as mode choice or car ownership and has tried to position travel decisions within the broader life context. However, while important progress has been made in terms of how to capture these additional dimensions, both in terms of detailed tracking of movements and in-depth data collection of long term decisions or social network influences, surveys have tended to look at only a handful (or often one) of these issues in isolation, especially at the data collection end. Making these links is the key aim of the data collection described in this paper. We conducted a comprehensive survey capturing respondents’ travel, energy and residential choices, their social environment, life history and short-term travel patterns. The survey is composed of a detailed background questionnaire, a life-course calendar and a name generator and name interpreter. Participants were also required to use a smartphone tracking app for 2-weeks. We believe that this is an unprecedented effort that joins complexity of the survey design, amount of information collected and sample size. The present paper gives a detailed overview of the different survey components and provides initial insights into the resulting data. We share lessons that we have learned and explain how our decisions in terms of specification were shaped by experiences from other data collections.


Travel survey GPS tracking Social networks Life-course events Data collection 



The authors acknowledge the financial support by the European Research Council through the consolidator grant 615596-DECISIONS. We are also grateful for in-depth discussions with Charisma Choudhury, Thijs Dekker, David Palma and Thomas Hancock.

Author contributions

CC: Literature search, protocol development and manuscript writing. R Crastes Dit Sourd: Coordination of data collection and contribution to protocol development. SHess: Contribution to the protocol development and manuscript editing.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Transport Studies and Choice Modelling CentreUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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