Using GPS-enabled mobile computing to augment qualitative interviewing: Two case studies

  • Jones P
  • Drury R
  • McBeath J
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With the rise of smart phones and ever more sophisticated handheld computers, many that now incorporate GPS (‘‘sat nav’’) technologies, there is tremendous potential for undertaking mixed-method research, including the collection of spatially referenced data. The increasing ubiquity and simplicity of mobile computing, as well as reduced cost, mean that the barriers to social scientists using these devices in the field have been significantly reduced. This article reports on two case studies using these technologies to investigate fear of crime and studentification. Participants generate spatial data simply by walking around an area, interacting with mobile devices through a simplistic interface. The resulting maps allow a more general spatial analysis of the issues to be undertaken, which can then be examined in more depth using qualitative data produced alongside the mobile computing activities. The article concludes that these approaches can be valuable in augmenting conventional qualitative data collection but emphasizes the importance of simple user interfaces both for participants and researcher.

Author-supplied keywords

  • GIS
  • GPS
  • mixed methods
  • mobile computing

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  • Phil Jones

  • Rhiannon Drury

  • James McBeath

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